Tale of the tape: More good than bad from Mitchell Trubisky

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Updated: October 18, 2017

7:00 AM ET

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky‘s statistics through two NFL starts aren’t overly impressive, but you need to look beyond the numbers to accurately assess the rookie’s performance to date.

We asked ESPN NFL Insider and former seven-year veteran safety Matt Bowen to review Trubisky’s performances against Minnesota and Baltimore.

What Bowen found on tape the past two weeks is far more encouraging than Trubisky’s stat line — 20-of-41 passing, 241 passing yards, two touchdowns, one interception and three fumbles.

STRENGTHS

Mobility

Bowen: The mobility has to be talked about because it’s such a change from Mike Glennon. It’s a perfect fit for the modern football game. I think everyone in the NFL would love to have Tom Brady and what he can do in terms of managing inside the pocket, but I think the way the game is played now at the high school and college level, you are going to get more athletic quarterbacks. There is going to be more movement to your offense, more play-action, more run-pass options. In today’s game, you’ve got to have a guy that can move and create plays on his own. Nothing ever works out like it’s expected to when you draw it up on a chalkboard. That stuff looks great on Friday versus the scout team, but on Sunday that never happens.

It’s the first thing Trubisky gives you — the ability to step up in the pocket, but also to escape. I’m not saying “escape” as in panic. If you’ve watched his two games — which I’m very impressed with — when he gets outside the pocket he’s looking to throw and his eyes are up the field. That’s such a bonus to what you can do in terms of your playcalling, and it expands your playbook, and that’s what you need with a rookie. You need him to get outside, move, and create different throwing lanes with his feet. Now, there were more examples of that during the Monday night games versus Minnesota because I thought Baltimore did an excellent job of containing on the edge and taking away those boot plays.

But on that third-down play in overtime [against the Ravens] to Kendall Wright — if you’re general manager Ryan Pace and somebody ever questions why you drafted Trubisky, you bring him into your office and put that play on. You saw everything on that play. The eyes were up, he stepped up in the pocket, he slides with very athletic movement and he says, “I’m going to take a shot here and win the football game.” And that’s what he did.

You saw it on that Monday night game when he was outside the pocket and throwing the ball on the run. You can’t run boot seams unless you have an accurate quarterback. Against the Vikings, those deep outside throws, those comebacks outside the numbers — that’s a small window there. If you miss in the NFL on an outside breaking route, it’s going the other way for a touchdown. You can get away with it in college sometimes. You miss outside against a defense like the Vikings and that ball is going the other way.

Same thing when you play a defense like the Ravens. I mean, being thrown into the mix versus defenses like Minnesota and Baltimore, that’s not easy. Those are two very creative defenses that gave him very creative looks.

Arm strength

Bowen: It’s not just arm strength, but the ability to vary his throws. Again, the deep outside touch against Minnesota — we saw that — but he can also vary his throws and put touch on the ball. The touchdown pass to Dion Sims [in the Baltimore game] — I know the coaches will tell him he had the play immediately. The Ravens busted a coverage and Sims released up the field, so he ideally gets it out to Sims quickly, but he didn’t. He missed it. That’s not a problem. Now, he gets outside, slides a little bit, uses that mobility and makes an accurate throw, but also puts a lot of touch on the football. He drops it over a defender. If you don’t, that’s an interception.

WEAKNESSES

Speed up the eyes

Bowen: This comes from lack of experience. He didn’t see defenses in college that moved a lot and showed him different looks. He took a sack at the end of the second quarter against Baltimore where they were showing pressure at the line of scrimmage. Now, I don’t know what the coaching staff is allowing Trubisky to do, but you’ve got to check out of that. You’ve got four routes running down the field and they’re bringing pressure; the ball has to come out. In that situation, that’s going to be a sack every time [unless he checks out of it to slant routes or runs quick option routes to get the football out of his hands].

Supporting cast

Bowen: I’ve always said this about young quarterbacks: They’re never going to be perfect, so you have to have some guys that can make plays for him. You have to have guys that can make plays on 50/50 throws. Right now, if I’m an opposing defensive coordinator and I look at the wide receivers on the Bears’ roster, there’s not a guy that really scares me. There’s not a guy that’s going to impact what I do from the defensive perspective in terms of my coverage rotation and my matchups. There’s just not going to be a lot of separation with them.

You saw in the Minnesota game when they ran that play-action with the deep inside cut behind it — they’re creating throwing windows for him. You see the same thing in Houston with Deshaun Watson. The Bears have to do more of that. I’d like to see the Bears do more run-pass option. That’s what he ran at North Carolina. I want to see more quarterback designed runs. I understand you want to protect the quarterback, but if you watch the way Russell Wilson and Alex Smith run, they don’t take big shots. And you’ve seen that from Mitch; when he gets outside the pocket and someone is coming, he gets down on the ground. I think he’s very mature about his body and how he runs. But I’d like to see more of that put into the game plan as well.

Article source: http://www.espn.com/blog/chicago-bears/post/_/id/4706722/tale-of-the-tape-more-good-than-bad-from-bears-qb-mitchell-trubisky