Mitch Trubisky’s Year 2 development? It’s the little details that are crucial
There are myriad details involved in the development of Mitch Trubisky as an NFL quarterback.
In his process of mastering Matt Nagy’s complex and detail-oriented QB-centric scheme. His quest to learn how each of his new playmakers run routes, attack footballs and reacts when a lack of targets comes his way. Even the second-year quarterback’s growth into a team leader who knows what makes each of his teammates tick is a highly-involved routine.
There also are myriad details involved in the evaluation of Mitch Trubisky as an NFL quarterback.
Sure, Nagy and his entire staff are honed in on the steps Trubisky is taking to improve his deep-ball accuracy and pocket poise — likely the two most ballyhooed aspects of his game in the first quarter of the 2018 campaign. But one might be surprised to learn a few of the other, finer details that Trubisky’s coaches are keying on that seldom show up in the box score.
For instance, during Trubisky’s first three games, the bright flashes were fleeting, and human nature is to press or even hold pity parties. Nagy noted the way Trubisky didn’t flinch after a pair of interceptions vs. Seattle. Still, he said he might have learned even more from Trubisky’s demeanor this past Sunday, when the quarterback was having one of the greatest statistical days in franchise history.
“One of the neat things about him was, if you flip it, all the good that was happening with him, there was no waver,” Nagy explained earlier this week. “It wasn’t something where he felt like cool now and calm that he’s having successful plays. Uh uh. He wanted more.
“And when you see that and feel that, it’s just infectious, it’s contagious. Your players feel it. I feel it as a play caller. Don’t let the foot off the pedal, and I think that’s probably more significant — how did he react to good things happening, rather than how did he react to negative plays.”
For Bears QB coach Dave Ragone, of course he’s almost obsessively focused on Trubisky’s footwork, his field vision and whether he’s feeling the rush. And from the smattering of spectacular plays during Trubisky’s 6-TD devastation of the Bucs, one would think perhaps the quarterback’s anticipation throw to Allen Robinson for a score, or his turkey-hole 35-yard sideline strike to Tarik Cohen might stand out the most. Think again.
“It’s a very small thing. It’s probably not going to make any headlines,” Ragone said. “But he was able to get the defense to jump offside. A hard cadence. And he has been using his cadence so well throughout all of the offseason into training camp. We’ve been on him about being able to do that.
“He was able to put us in some first-and-5s. Those are small things. I get everybody looks at the stat line. ... For me, as his position coach, there are certain things we really want him to own and build as his career builds. Those are the small detail things that can get lost sometimes when you’re calling the play and getting to the line of scrimmage, making sure the protection is right, getting your eyes (right).
“It’s a simple thing, but for him to be on top of that, constantly using that, helping the offensive line so the defensive line just can’t get off on a normal cadence, to me, that’s a tremendous amount of growth. That’s how I kind of look at it in that way.”
Trubisky’s 16th NFL start obviously was his best, but it was still his 16th NFL start. We know the coaches are evaluating the nuances in his play every step of the way. If Bears fans try and take a step back the next time Trubisky struggles — no, he won’t throw six touchdowns every week — it might make what’s been one of the more enjoyable Bears seasons in years that much more gratifying.
“I think, for me, the first four games, I understand the outcome and everything that happened [Sunday],” Ragone said. “But through the first three games, there was a lot of great learning that happened. Fortunately in a couple of those we were able to win. Maybe it wasn’t the stat line performance that we all wanted or that we hoped for. But at the end of the day, for him more importantly, we want him to grow not just mentally but physically. He took steps in some of those games that don’t show up on the stat line. And that’s something that we talk about amongst the staff or within the quarterback room.”
There might be more days like Sunday, when the progress is crystal clear. And it’s at least as likely that there will be more games like the second half in Green Bay and first half in Seattle, poor showings of which we must be critical. But as fans and analysts, let’s challenge ourselves to also identify the finer details in between as Trubisky continues to develop, and keep discussing those as well.