Maybe it’s Mitch Trubisky’s own fault for raising expectations to unsustainable levels by stringing together three superb outings in a four-game span earlier in the season, but his performance has been a bit disappointing lately.
In his four most recent starts, Trubisky’s numbers have been well below his average. Throw out his magnificent 355-yard effort in the first Lions game, and the Bears’ young quarterback has three TD passes and six interceptions for just 410 yards in his other three starts since Nov. 4 for a 54.0 passer rating.
Trubisky’s Sunday night numbers in the 15-6 victory were his worst of the season, as he completed 16 of 30 passes for 110 yards with three interceptions and one TD for a 33.3 passer rating. Time to panic? Hardly, since the Bears have now won each of Trubisky’s last five starts.
In his second year in the league and first in Matt Nagy’s offense, it appeared Trubisky was way ahead of schedule after that Lions game, when he posted a 148.6 passer rating, his fourth of 102.0 or better in a six-game stretch. But lately it’s worth wondering if he’s taken a step back in his development.
“Not when you win,” Nagy said, dismissing the notion after the Rams game. “He made some plays when we needed him to. For him to be able to keep learning, there’s going to be some bumps in the road. You can’t throw for 350 yards every game. That’s just not going to happen in this offense in Year One."
Trubisky’s passer rating has dipped to 92.1, which is 22nd in the NFL. But it seems only fair to cut him some slack for Sunday night’s performance, considering it was his first action since suffering an injury to his throwing shoulder three weeks earlier, and he was playing against a talented Rams defense. Nagy said the QB’s recent inactivity wasn’t a factor.
“The rust thing, it has nothing to do with rust,” Nagy said. “You’d like to have pinpoint accuracy on every throw, and there’s some that he was slightly off. But that’s my job, too, to make sure that I’m putting him in good positions with the play calls.
“Just talking to Mitch after the game, the thing that I love about him is, he cares so much. He knows that we as an offense can play better, and he’s going to be the first one in here to try to make sure that we’re doing everything the right way.”
As thrilled as he was for the team win Sunday night, you could hear in Trubisky’s voice the frustration he felt with his own performance, but he did not make excuses.
“I wouldn't say the cold affected me at all,” he said. “Not playing two weeks, I don't know if that affected me. I know it definitely sucked being out for me, mentally. I think I just need to be better all the way around. I was pretty amped and anxious coming out for this game because I was out for two weeks. That had nothing to do with the way I played. I think I just need to settle down, be better with my footwork, and try not to do too much.”
That last part might be the key. With the defense playing the way it is, the Bears certainly don’t need Trubisky to be Pat Mahomes or Jared Goff. The Bears can go a long way this year if he’s Dak Prescott or Marcus Mariota.
“I'm very fortunate to be a part of this team,” Trubisky said late Sunday night. “The guys continue to believe in me, stick by me. We pulled through on offense. The defense had our backs all night, making big plays, getting turnovers, shutting down a really good offense.”
That’s a formula that could work well into the postseason.