Don’t let the headline throw you off. Chicago Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky is in a good place heading into the 2019 season.
Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News) ranks Trubisky as the league’s No. 15 quarterback. So while that puts the Bears QB1 firmly in the middle of the pack league-wide, there’s still room and reason for him to move up in the ranks. Allow me to explain.
There are seven tiers (eight, if you count the rookie class) in Iyer’s ranking system. Trubisky lands in Tier 3, which highlights “younger QBs who have shown flashes and are on the cusp of greatness.” Joining Trubisky in this group are Deshaun Watson and Dak Prescott (who rank ahead of Trubisky) and Jimmy Garoppolo (who checks in as No. 16 on the list). All of the quarterbacks in this group still have a gear to find and untapped potential that has yet to be unleashed. If they can find it, odds are they’ll find themselves leveling up when Iyer puts together this list next season.
And you know what could help push Trubisky up the ranks? Leading the Bears to a Super Bowl run.
The “Good Morning Football” crew offered up the question which first-round quarterback from the class of 2017 has the best shot at playing for the Lombardi Trophy at Super Bowl LIV. Before we dive into that question, it’s worth noting how remarkable it is for these three to already be at this point in their respective careers. Remember how maligned the 2017 draft class of quarterbacks was at the time? Trubisky, Watson, and Patrick Mahomes each came with serious red flags from scouts and draft analysts alike. And yet, each quarterbacked their respective franchise to a division title and postseason berth. Oh, and you better believe they’ve kept receipts on their doubters.
As for which one will make their way into the Super Bowl picture, each can make a compelling case. But for any of the three to make it, they’ll need help from those around them on the field.
Mahomes’ Chiefs are favorites in the AFC, but that defense needs to get it together. With a new coordinator and an influx of new talent, it could happen – but that group needs to prove it on the field before Kansas City is crowned. Watson’s Texans figure to be competitive in the AFC South after winning the division title last year, but that division might be the most loaded from top-to-bottom in that conference. Houston’s offensive line left much to be desired last year. If it improves, Watson could take his game to another level. But if it doesn’t, well, everyone knows how difficult it is to play quarterback when you’re lying on your back.
So that leaves Trubisky, who arguably has the most growing to do at the position. Mahomes has a league MVP under his belt and numbers I thought were only possible in video games. Watson has put up big stats, too. He has a 4,100-yard passing season under his belt, has averaged nearly two passing touchdowns per game, and dropped his interception rate from 3.9% to 1.8% from his rookie season to Year 2.
Before we start feeling itchy about Trubisky when compared to his draft classmates, Nate Burleson offered up a unique perspective: “I feel like last year he was playing like a rookie that was wet behind the ears, a little new to the speed of the game,” Burleson explained. “This year, I feel like he’ll have more control of the offense and they’ll let him sling it a little bit and use his feet in the pocket.”
I never wanted to think of Trubisky’s 2018 as a second rookie season, in part because his playing under John Fox was supposed to make it so he would avoid those first-year feelings whenever he got into a new system. But when backup quarterback Chase Daniel talked about Trubisky un-learning what he had learned under the previous regime and Head Coach Matt Nagy discussing de-programming and re-booting his quarterback last season, it makes me think Burleson might be onto something. In addition to gaining knowledge of his new offense, his growth couldn’t fully begin until the unhelpful habits that were coached into him as a rookie were tossed into the trash.
If Trubisky has successfully removed those issues from his hard-wiring, the sky is the limit. And his rankings will reflect it next year.