Mitchell Trubisky was all over Radio Row in 2018. Coming off his first Pro Bowl appearance, Trubisky wandered through the maze of cords and fold up chairs, plugging the latest Gatorade flavor and answering questions about What's Next For The Bears after their season ended, you'll remember, rather dramatically.
Fast forward a year, and Trubisky was still the talk of Radio Row for anyone on the Bears' beat. With that said, after only eight wins and a QBR barely above 40 (that's bad!), it's not entirely surprising that Gatorade had other athletes repping them in Miami. Even headed into his fourth year, though, the book on Trubisky still depends on who you ask.
"I think, if I was running the Bears, you bring in some moderate competition," said Kevin Clark, one of The Ringer's NFL writers. "I don't think you bring in Philip Rivers or Jameis Winston or someone's who's going to cost $25 million. But I think you bring in a mid-level veteran, and you push Mitchell Trubisky."
"If you want to see if he's a franchise quarterback – and I don't think anyone thinks he is right now – but if you want to see that before you move on for good in 2021? You have to push him a little bit. You have to bring in a guy who could at least win a job from him. Either he's going to win the job and he's going to thrive or he's not. If you want to see if Mitchell Trubisky is the answer in 2021, 2022, 2023, you find out this August. And if he's not, you move on from him as quickly as possible. Holding on to mistakes is one of the biggest flaws teams have."
Interestingly enough, the divide on Trubisky tends to split right between analysts and former players. The former see a QB who's never ranked higher than 15 in QB DVOA, and ended 2019 as the 30th-ranked QB in that same metric. They see a quarterback who's 2019 Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement (DYAR) puts him with the likes of Joe Flacco, Mason Rudolph and Daniel Jones. 2019, to them, established what they were preaching during his Pro Bowl campaign a year ago.
"That he wasn't that good in 2018," Robert Mays, also of The Ringer, said. "And if there's scattered moments, there's scattered moments. The defense was great in 2018. The numbers were fine, he did a lot of work on the ground, I just don't think he's going to be an above-average quarterback at any point. The idea that, well, you can win with him – why? Why talk yourself into that version of it? Why ride with this because you feel like you have to? You don't have to."
The athletes, on the other hand, see a guy with all the physical tools and a knack for late-game success and leadership. Especially for a guy like Mark Sanchez, who knows a thing or two about the pressures of a team trading up for him in the first round, Trubisky's narrative is far from set in stone.
"Remember, he came out of college early," Sanchez said. "There's definitely a learning curve associated with being in the NFL, especially as a QB. I left early as well, and went to a team that had a ton of talent, drafted early because they traded up from 15. Just like the Bears finished this year, when you're 8-8, one field goal, one drive, one first down can change the course of your season. The difference between 8-8 and 10-6 is so small. Winning your division as opposed to coming in 2-3 is so small. Just a small margin for error. I think they'll learn from a lot of their mistakes."
The Bears are counting on it, because the window isn't getting any larger. They'll have to decide on Trubisky's 5th-year option by early May, and the general consensus is that there's another QB coming to Halas Hall sooner or later (FWIW, Mays was more on board with a big name QB than his Ringer coworker). Between the never-ending comparisons to now-World Champion Pat Mahomes and the upcoming quarterback competitions, both analysts and players alike agreed that a new chapter in Trubisky's career is about to begin.
"Mitch knows that's the dotted line you sign on playing this position at the highest level, and the toughest position in all of sports," Sanchez added. "He's got a huge stage to perform on, and I know he relishes in that fact. He enjoys that. He loves the pressure and he'll be just fine."