Mitch Trubisky’s third season as a pro has been a disappointment.
He has seen his passer rating, completion percentage, yards per attempt, and other statistics take major dips. And in turn, an offense that should have been on the upswing after a competent showing for a bulk of the 2018 season has taken an aggressive step backwards in 2019.
With that being said, Trubisky has four games left to pitch his status as the unquestioned starter entering the 2020 season. Funny how that works.
Even if the Bears don’t make the playoffs, the final four games of the 2019 regular season should provide a clearer picture as to what should happen at the quarterback position moving forward. And while your minds might be made up (which is totally fair, based on the data on the stat sheet and what we have seen via the eye test), I am still curious to see how Trubisky finishes the season against four teams currently in position to make the playoffs.
So with that in mind, I put together a list of things the Bears should be doing in an attempt to make the most of the rest of this season with Trubisky under center.
Here goes nothing …
MORE USAGE OF “10” PERSONNEL
One of the most encouraging things that happened during the Bears’ win against the Lions on Thanksgiving was this break-through:
Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears found success utilizing 10 personnel (1 RB, 0 TE, 4 WR) in their 24-20 win over the Lions.
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 28, 2019
This stands out because Trubisky’s year-long stats in four-receiver sets (62.9 completion percentage, 5.6 yards/attempt, 4 TD, 4 INT, 76.1 rating) are no damn good.
And since the Bears have issues right now filling a complete tight ends depth chart, perhaps running more “10” personnel with four receivers, one running back, and no tight ends is something we’ll see more of in this season’s final stretch. Using this type of package forces defenses to take bodies out of the box, which should also be advantageous to the Bears’ running game.
OK, LEAVE SOME ROOM FOR A JUMBO PACKAGE
It is a small sample of snaps, but Trubisky has thrown well on the field in a 2 TE package.
Trubisky has completed 67.4 percent of his passes, averaged 6.7 yards per attempt, and posted a 99.7 passer rating. He also has three touchdowns against just one interception in those sets. But as I mentioned earlier, the sample isn’t enough to catch feelings, because Trubisky has thrown just 43 times in those situations. And because Chicago barely has enough healthy tight ends to make this work, I’m not sure this can be deployed. And yet, I can’t help but think it should be worth considering — if only for the play action ramifications.
MORE PLAY ACTION, PLEASE
Trubisky has completed 68.2 percent of his passes, averaged 7.6 yards/attempt, and posted a 93.1 passer rating when throwing out of play action this season. His stats on non-play action plays (62.7%, 5.8 Y/A, 82.6 rating) represent enough of a drop-off to where it would be logical to establish the run to make the passing game go.
But there’s also this:
Cris Collinsworth on Wednesday's NFL Total Access talking play action and the Dallas Cowboys: “Play action is effective regardless of how you’re running the football. Now it took me a lifetime to get to where that became a fact in my brain."pic.twitter.com/C7xvhZYBB7
— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) December 5, 2019
Makes a ton of sense.
SECURE A MIND-CONTROL DEVICE AND TRICK TRUBISKY THAT THE ENTIRE GAME IS MADE OUT OF THE THIRD QUARTER
OK, I’ll admit to this being a bit far-fetched. Though, it worked for C. Montgomery Burns’ Springfield Nuclear Power Plant Softball Team.
Anyway, Trubisky’s third-quarter numbers(47/69, 58.1%, 632 yards, 9.2 yards/attempt, 5 TD, 2 INT, 109.1 rating) are the beacon of light on an otherwise dark stats page.
KEEP THROWING ON FIRST DOWN
I had a good chuckle with Brett at the Giants game, as we listened to fans next to us demand the Bears run the ball despite watching the line get pushed back three yards on every snap. So with that in mind, maybe the Bears should keep throwing it on first down. Statistically, this appears to be a good idea.
On 1st and 10, Trubisky has completed 70.8 percent of his passes, averaged 6.6 yards per throw, and posted a 96.8 passer rating. On all first-down plays, Trubisky has completed 69.9 percent of his passes for an average of 6.4 yards per attempt and a 101.8 passer rating. The Bears would do well to get Trubisky in a rhythm early with passes that get yards and put the team in manageable second- and third-down situations. Oh, and did I mention six of Trubisky’s 13 touchdowns have come on first down throws? If not, now I have.
Get a lead, for crying out loud.
I once had a basketball coach refer to a player of his as a “homer,” due to the stretch of games where he excelled only at home, when the crowd had his back and everything was going right. And I found myself thinking about that anecdote when I stumbled upon Trubisky’s splits playing with a lead this season.
The numbers vibe with someone who – for lack of a better term – is kind of a front-runner. Trubisky has completed 67.9 percent of his passes, averaged 7.2 yards per attempt, and posted a 94.0 passer rating when his team is ahead. Those numbers aren’t going to knock anyone’s socks off. But compared to his numbers when his team is behind (62.2%, 6.0 Y/A, 84.0 rating) or tied (63.6%, 5.0 Y/A, 74.7 rating), they look great. It sounds over-simplistic, but getting Trubisky a lead early appears to do wonders for his production (Michael: Or maybe that a little bit of the tail wagging the dog in games against weaker defenses/he’s already found a rhythm).
Naturally, all of this is easier said than done. But it had to be said. So … why not go out and do it?