With Pieces In Place, Mitchell Trubisky Faces Potentially Revealing Stretch Ahead

November 08, 2018 - 4:38 pm
Categories: 

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) -- Outside of the Bears' home confines of Halas Hall, the sentiment surrounding the play of second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is vastly different. Whereas the Bears express faith and enthusiasm surrounding his development, strong skepticism exists from some outsiders.

Part of that stems from the Nintendo numbers of the Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes and the Rams' Jared Goff -- recent first-round draft picks thriving early in their careers -- while Trubisky has been just good enough for his first-place team. The Bears are aware of the outside perception of Trubisky, and they just don't care.

"The only thing he needs to worry about is what I think about him and what people in this building think about him," coach Matt Nagy said. "Everyone is entitled to their opinions, and that's OK. That's fine."

The Bears share that confidence in the 24-year-old Trubisky, and they also understand it's incumbent upon them to help reveal his best.

The return of No. 1 receiver Allen Robinson this week will be important for the Bears and Trubisky, who made strides in the last two weeks with a key target sidelined due to a groin injury. In that time, Trubisky targeted receivers Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller a combined 24 times, connecting for 15 completions. 

Gabriel has already set a career-best mark with 37 catches, which he reached in eight games. Running back Tarik Cohen is the team's second-leading receiver with 31 catches, trailing only Gabriel. Miller is finally coming into his own after a shoulder injury in September, now with 19 catches. Tight end Trey Burton leads the team with five touchdown catches. 

Now, Robinson is scheduled to be back in the mix Sunday after Trubisky has established his other targets.

"We definitely want to have all our playmakers out there at the same time," Robinson said. "I think that's going to make this offense special. We have a lot of weapons, we have a lot of players that we can play off of, so it's hard for a defense to really plan against that."

With so many new faces surrounding Trubisky as this season opened, the Bears envisioned it would take some time to create a dynamic offense. Nagy and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich installed schemes they hoped would reveal Trubisky's fullest potential, designed to spread the football to an arsenal of weapons.

They understood that patience would be required with Trubisky. The immediate success of Mahomes -- the former protege of Nagy in Kansas City and the first quarterback selected after Trubisky in the 2017 draft -- has drawn national acclaim and served as an example of what a talented young quarterback can accomplish when he's fully comfortable in a system. Nagy came out and said comparisons between Trubisky and Mahomes are unfair at this present time, because Mahomes has an extra year of experience in his system.

At the halfway point of his first full season, Trubisky is seeing the game differently.

"I just feel like I have more command of the offense and command of the huddle and just feel like I’m a good leader for this offense," Trubisky said. "I’m just very confident going out there and leading my guys. I know what I have to do. There are still areas I have to improve within my game and still growing in that. But I feel comfortable and confident with where I am as a leader with command of this offense. Just getting in and out of the huddle, seeing things post-snap, I think it’s all starting to slow down."

Trubisky has completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 1,949 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions in eight games. Entering Week 10, his passer rating of 96.1 ranks 16th in the league. The Bears rank 17th in total yards per game with a mark of 358.6. 

The second half of this season will be especially telling to Trubisky's future as the Bears' quarterback. This team stands at 5-3 and atop the NFC North, with five divisional games remaining that will ultimately decide whether Chicago has a postseason to enjoy. First up for the Bears is a stretch of three division opponents in a 12-day span, starting with the Lions (3-5) visiting Soldier Field on Sunday.

Perhaps there's untapped potential in this Bears offense, which entered 2018 with such high hopes. But that all starts with a quarterback who will play these next eight games under the microscope.

Trubisky can change the national narrative by leading the Bears to the playoffs, because winning is what tends to define a quarterback.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.​