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From playoff hero to playoff problem

January 6, 2019. There was 44 seconds left on the clock. The whole season was about to be summed up by one final drive. Trubisky caught the shotgun snap, went through his progression, and stepped up in the pocket knowing he was about to take a bone crushing hit. The second-year pro uncorked a 25-yard missile down the right sideline to his favorite target, threading the needle between an outreached corner and ball hawking safety. Up to this point, this was the biggest throw of his life. The next play, Trubisky proceeded to throw an easy curl route to set the Bears up to win the game.  43 yards away, the game rested on the foot of Cody Parkey. We all know what happened next. A game lost on the right leg of the kicker seemed to set the narrative in motion. As always, the blame came back to the quarterback for the team coming up short. Had Parkey made the kick, Trubisky would’ve been the hero.

Hot takes

Fast forward to the present day. An article from the Chicago Tribune shed light on some of Trubisky’s “inconsistencies” in practice set the media world on fire. When referencing the article, Collin Cowherd refered to the playoff game against the Eagles and said, “Trubisky, on the final drive, couldn’t pull it out.” However, by just watching the final drive of the game, it is obvious Trubisky put on quite the show to put his team in a position to win in the biggest moment of the season.

The most recent national media outburst is one of many hot-takes on the Chicago Bear QB. It seems that since draft day, many have been out to label him as a bust, some even before he played a single NFL snap.  The criticism is and always has been unfair for the 2nd overall pick who had just played a single season (each) of high school and college ball as a starter. A high-level executive claimed, “Ryan Pace just got fired with this draft,” referencing the 2017 class headlined by a franchise-altering trade for Trubisky. As Trubisky started to play a little bit in 2017 and 2018 the takes kept coming. Bill Barnwell called him “the Blake Bortles of the North.” Many of these criticisms were outlandish and completely pre-mature, not really giving a guy with all the tools but little experience time to master the hardest position in all of sports. Trubisky’s growth over the past two seasons has been encouraging, and its finally time for him to put it all together.

Rookie Season

Let’s go back to his rookie season. It was obvious that midway through the 2017 season, the Bears weren’t destined for much. Furthermore, John Fox’s playbook which looked like it had been taken from Madden ’94 wasn’t doing the rookie any favors. Trubisky finished his first season completing under 60% of his passes with a 77.5 rating for the year. These numbers were uninspiring at best. This clearly wasn’t a growing environment for a young QB and in due time, John Fox was fired.

2018 Season

Enter Matt Nagy. Nagy came to Chicago after the 2017 season with familiarity of Trubisky from the prior pre-draft process in Kansas City. Nagy, a former quarterback himself, installed a modern NFL offense built around the Quarterback and Ryan Pace quickly got him the pieces he needed. In his second season in a revamped offense, Trubisky had a passer rating of 95.4 (17th in NFL) and a completion percentage of 66.6% (15th in NFL) in the system he learned that year. Trubisky also threw for 3,223 yards, 24 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and rushed for 421 yards in 14 games. In addition, Trubisky helped the Bears become a top 10 scoring offense in the league, charging toward a 12-4 record and a playoff berth as he had a nod to be a Pro-Bowl alternate.

Training Camp

These numbers, while not phenomenal, show tremendous growth between two seasons. Both his passer rating and completion percentage were right on par with the average of the NFL last season. In addition, Trubisky was forced to learn two completely different systems in as many years. In the 2019 season, it should be expected that even more growth will occur due to familiarity with his coaches and teammates and the chemistry that is forming between them. Most reports out of Bear’s camp seemed to be positive, explaining that while there is still room to improve, Trubisky is worlds ahead of where he was at this point last year in regards to his control and understanding of the offense, and connection with  teammates, specifically, Allen Robinson.

This is not to say his camp was without issues, but some of the criticisms coming out of camp are completely unfair and out of line from the national media. Camp is meant as a time to try new plays and concepts and to see what works and what doesn’t and sometimes throws are even forced because of this. This isn’t a time to analyze statistics which is what we are all prone to do. Additionally, it isn’t fully expected for Trubisky to be flawless in practice against the best defense in the NFL. Remember, last year people were also worried about Patrick Mahomes struggles in camp and Mahomes took the NFL by storm- winning the MVP. Overall,  Trubisky has shown the most important signs in camp to those watching closely: control over the playbook, chemistry with wideouts and an ability to correct mistakes and grow from them.

What does the future hold?

This is not to say that everything should be examined through orange glasses. This is rather a glass half-full take when the media would much rather take the opposite with no explanation. Up to this point in his career, Trubisky has left a lot to be desired and has been inconsistent. However, the young QB, entering his third year in the NFL and second year in a consistent system has all the tools in place to succeed. This is truly the year to judge the performance of the former 2nd overall pick in which he can be criticized fairly. In a world of instant gratification however, it is hard for many to wait for actual games to evaluate the performance of the QB in his third year. It is a lot easier to roll out controversial remarks speculating how his season will go. September 5th can not come soon enough for the Trubisky and Bear’s fans. There are a lot of naysayers out there, but this is nothing new for Trubisky.