Gabriel: Mitchell Trubisky Exceeding Expectations

October 25, 2018 - 9:42 am

(670 The Score) I've been involved in the NFL in some manner since 1981, and I can honestly say that I don't think I've ever seen a quarterback critiqued as much as the Bears' Mitchell Trubisky is. In my view, too many are expecting perfection from Trubisky without realizing that's asking for the impossible.

The 24-year-old Trubisky is less than halfway through his second professional season and is playing in a complex offensive system that takes time to master. He has done well in the Bears' 3-3 start, flashing his potential and showing progress. He has exceeded expectations in my mind, not fallen short of them.

One of the primary reasons that Trubisky is so heavily critiqued is because of the success that both Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson have had early in their careers. As we all know, the Bears selected Trubisky at No. 2 overall in 2017 over the other two, with Mahomes going No. 10 and Watson being chosen at No. 12.

We can debate all day whether the Bears should've selected one of the other quarterbacks. It would be a fair and solid argument, but the reality is that for the Bears, it only matters what Trubisky can accomplish now. 

And so far, he's played really well, posting a 97.1 quarterback rating, 65.9 completion percentage, 1,594 yards, 13 touchdowns and six interceptions in six games. Those number compare favorably to where some of the veteran, established quarterback were in their second (or third or fourth) year and also favorably to some of the younger quarterbacks just ahead of Trubisky.

Let's take a look at how Trubisky stacks up.

Ben Roethlisberger

Roethlisberger had a standout rookie campaign of 2004, leading the Steelers to a 13-0 mark in the regular-season games he started and posting a 98.1 quarterback rating. In his second season, Roethlisberger completed 62.7 percent of his passes for 2,385 yards, 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He had a 98.6 quarterback rating and started 12 games, with the Steelers going 9-3. Roethlisberger then threw a league-high 23 interceptions in his third season, a reminder that growing pains can last for years.

Philip Rivers

Rivers became a starter in his third year after sitting and learning behind the great Drew Brees. With Rivers leading the way for the first time in 2006, the Chargers went 14-2. He threw for 3,388 yards, 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions, with a 92.0 quarterback rating and 61.7 completion percentage. 

Aaron Rodgers

Rodgers also sat behind a legendary quarterback, learning under Brett Favre. Rodgers didn't start until 2008, his fourth season. He put up big numbers, throwing for 4,038 yards, 28 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, with a 93.8 quarterback rating and 63.6 completion percentage.

Marcus Mariota

As a rookie in 2015, Mariota had a 91.5 quarterback rating in 12 games. In his second season, he threw for 2,426 yards, 26 touchdowns, nine interceptions and registered a 95.6 quarterback rating and 61.2 completion percentage.

Jameis Winston

The No. 1 pick in 2015, Winston has been criticized for character flaws. On the field, I'd rather have Trubisky. In his second season, Winston threw for 4,090 yards, 28 touchdowns and 18 interceptions, with an 86.1 quarterback rating and 60.8 completion percentage. The Bucs went 6-10 then.

Andrew Luck

When Luck was drafted first overall in 2012, he was probably the most NFL-ready quarterback in years, having played in Stanford’s pro-style system. Still, he had some second-year ups and downs in 2013, posting an 87.0 quarterback rating while throwing for 3,822 yards, 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions with a 60.2 completion percentage.

As you can see, Trubisky's numbers through six games stand up to those of many successful quarterbacks early in their playing careers. While numbers don't tell the whole story, they're part of the basis on which Trubisky should be judged. In my mind, far too many people have been too critical of his play.

Watson had an amazing rookie season in 2017 before suffering an ACL tear. Back to action now, he hasn't come close to returning to that top form yet. Mahomes has simply been special, and it wouldn't surprise me if he became an all-time great.

Trubisky is on a course to become a successful, winning quarterback. He's not perfect, and we shouldn't expect him to be. He will have games like he did on Sept. 30, when he lit the Buccaneers up. He will also have games like he did Sunday, when he off-target far too often in a loss to the Patriots. 

It's all part of the learning process. Keep that in mind. In the end, I have a feeling the Bears and fans are going to be really happy with what Trubisky transforms into as a quarterback and leader.

Greg Gabriel is a former NFL talent evaluator who's an on-air contributor for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @greggabe.​​​