The biggest game of Mitch Trubisky’s career came in his first season as a full-time starter. Life comes at you fast.
When the Bears and the NFL were ready to get the 2018-19 season underway, expectations were fairly low. Experts thought the Bears would squeeze out six to seven wins, maybe eight. But after Ryan Pace acquired Khalil Mack, the narrative changed. The defense that was already a top ten unit had the chance to become the best defense in the league. And they did just that.
On the offensive side, the narrative was that it was going to take time for Trubisky to learn and master the offensive system. Matt Nagy’s system was going to tailor to Trubisky’s strength’s, much like it did at North Carolina, but it was going to be a complete 180 from what Dowell Loggains was installing in his rookie campaign.
Fast forward to Soldier Field on Wild Card Weekend. Trubisky had his share of high’s and low’s in the regular season, but we saw how effective the offensive system can be when Trubisky is playing at a high level. And the weapons surrounding Trubisky made it easier too. Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Trey Burton, and All-Pro Tarik Cohen create separation for fluid throws for Trubisky.
When you look on paper, Trubisky played a pretty good game: 26/43 303 yards 1 TD 0 INT. No turnovers was going to be crucial for the young QB and he accomplished that. There were a fair share of poor throws that were almost picked off but the Bears got lucky. But Trubisky played a strong game overall, displaying his deep ball accuracy to Allen Robinson and executing quick screens and intermediate throws.
Let’s breakdown some of Trubisky’s best throws from Sunday.
Before we get into it, Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz does a great job in disguising coverages. Trubisky was going to have a lot on his plate pre-snap and after the snap. But at certain times, Trubisky took advantage of one on one coverage and capitalized.
:58 seconds left in the 3rd quarter, 1st and 10 on the CHI 34
Lets start with the formation. The Bears are lined up in a 3×1 set. Robinson is lined up on the right of the formation. This screams a featured route for Robinson. Trubisky is looking at Robinson the entire time and is banking on cornerback Avonte Maddox to bite on the slant, leaving Robinson wide open over the top.
Robinson sells the slant, but Trubisky also sells the throw with a pump fake. Maddox was looking for the big play. He jumped the slant and it left him in the dust.
11:13 left in the 4th quarter, 3rd and 11 from the CHI 19
Personally, I thought this was the best throw next to Trubisky’s throw to Robinson to set up the field goal at the end of the game. The Bears again were in a 3×1 set with Adam Shaheen lined up as a wing. Taylor Gabriel is the single receiver at the top of the screen.
Gabriel runs a curl route and it takes some time to develop. Trubisky is locked in on what is his first read and delivers a strong throw for a gain of 19. This is not an easy throw. It’s a pretty tight window and the ball has to be a laser to Gabriel or it will get batted down or picked off. On Sunday, I was very impressed with this throw. This is not an easy one to complete and it would move the chains to later set up a touchdown strike to Robinson.
9:54 left in the 4th quarter, 2nd and 4 at the CHI 44
The Bears are lined up in a trips formation once again. It’s one of Nagy’s favorite formations and you can do plenty out of it. At the snap, it looks to be a quick screen to Tarik Cohen. Instead, Cohen sells the screen and Josh Bellamy releases down field and catches a deep ball for a 34 yard gain.
Look at Trubisky’s footwork. He points his shoulder toward Cohen, pump fakes, then resets his feet for a perfect throw to Bellamy. The Bears took advantage of the Eagles aggressive secondary in the second-half with double moves.
The Bears final drive to set-up the potential game winning field goal
This was a veteran throw. The ball placement was perfect and if Trubisky threw it to his upfield shoulder, it may have been picked.
If the Bears were victorious, everyone would be talking about Cody Parkey fixing his issues and being the hero. Also, Trubisky would be put on a podium for a great playoff performance. But with the loss and Parkey hitting the upright once again, that was all Chicago radio was talking about.
Trubisky made some suspect throws that were nearly picked off, but he played a clean game. He led the Bears down the field twice in the fourth quarter and it being his first playoff performance, it was quiet impressive.
I’m sold on Trubisky. He has shown us enough for us to believe he can be a franchise quarterback. And his playoff debut double downed on my faith in Trubisky and this offense. This offseason will be the biggest of his career as he works to improve his game and knowledge of the offense. I’m excited for the future and this team is only going to get better.
Stick with Windy City Chronicle in the coming weeks as we reminisce on the season and hand out player and position grades.