Accept it: Trubisky is an imperfect quarterback you can win with originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
As the endless quest to pigeonhole Mitch Trubisky into a success or failure continues, it might be time to accept what he is — a quarterback you can win with if you put him in position to succeed.
Trubisky passed a significant test Sunday in Minneapolis, facing a more complex scheme with tougher reads and managing a respectable passer rating of 97.7 as the Bears beat the Vikings 33-27, keeping their playoff hopes alive.
And yes, Trubisky did throw a near-catastrophic interception in the end zone with 2:57 left in the game.
He also led six straight scoring drives. In fact, after an opening three-and-out, the Bears managed points on every single possession the rest of the game, except for Trubisky’s interception that ended a nine-play, 65-yard drive. And everything went into it, most notably the offensive balance with David Montgomery getting 23 carries and gaining 146 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
“You see when (Trubisky) has to throw the ball 21 times and we’re able to run the ball with running back for 32 attempts, it makes offense a lot easier and it’s effective,” head coach Matt Nagy said.
Excuse Bears fans as they scream back, “NO KIDDING.” This is what Chicago – and apparently Trubisky too – has been begging for. Trubisky took advantage Sunday by completing 15-of-21 passes for 202 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
His biggest fans will call for a contract extension. His critics won’t get over the interception. On both sides, expectations need to be adjusted. Somewhere in between is the tough reality that Trubisky will likely never live up to his No. 2 overall draft status, and yet, the Bears need him. He gives them the best chance to win football games.
“It was great to see the way that he ran the offense all day today, decision making with these nakeds getting onto the edge and it’s a stress to the defense with the moving parts,” Nagy said. “I think he’s doing a really good job at just commanding it and making good decisions.”
Trubisky isn’t the only reason for the Bears’ offensive turnaround, but he is a big reason. The offensive line’s resurgence has been a key, protecting the quarterback and unlocking Montgomery. But Trubisky also factors into the offensive line play. His elusiveness takes the pressure off the tackles, but the schemes Nagy and Bill Lazor have been running with Trubisky are also friendlier to the offensive line than the dropback/spread it out game the Bears were running with Nick Foles.
Doubters were able to point out that Trubisky faced the Packers, Lions and Texans in his first three games back from his benching. Of those teams, the Packers’ defense ranks highest in defensive DVOA at No. 20. The Texans are 30th and the Lions are 31st. That’s why Sunday’s performance against the Vikings carried more weight. Minnesota’s defense ranks 12th in DVOA and was as high as No. 9 a week ago. Even with young cornerbacks, it’s a well-coached unit and Mike Zimmer has made things tough on Trubisky in the past.
“Their two safeties on the back end make it hard on quarterbacks, with the false rotations and jumping around and stuff like that,” Trubisky said. “I thought we did a good job with everyone being on the same page and executing.”
The Vikings were intent on playing a two-high safety shell Sunday, especially after Trubisky beat them on a 24-yard corner route to Allen Robinson when he got man coverage on the second drive of the game. That kept things underneath as Trubisky took what the defense gave him and it also opened up the running game for Montgomery.
“They're asking you to run the football,” Trubisky said. “We wanted to go out there and establish the run today. The o-line with their mindset, and (Montgomery) with his, we just went out there and that's what we did. We passed when we needed to and it was a pretty balanced game all across the board.”
Nagy’s goal for Trubisky was always for him to be the point guard of the offense, putting the ball in the hands of his playmakers. In a perfect world, with a great offensive line and weapons like the Kansas City Chiefs have, Nagy’s offense would always scheme receivers open and make the reads easy for the quarterback. For various reasons – including Trubisky’s limitations in processing coverages – that never happened consistently enough. But Trubisky wasn’t the only player being asked to do too much. The offensive line was out of its comfort zone too. The first signs indicating that the Bears needed to make very significant schematic changes go back to the Chargers game in 2019, when Nagy sprung some power I-formation on Los Angeles and it worked.
As has proven to be true, less is more with this offense and Trubisky. So why did it take so long to accept and implement these changes? That question will continue to be a frustration for Bears fans to ponder. But part of it has to do with accepting Mitch Trubisky for what he is – an imperfect quarterback capable of winning football games if you scheme to his strengths.
It appears Nagy has accepted this. You should too.
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