In this week's edition of Take 2, Pro Football Weekly editors Bob LeGere and Arthur Arkush discuss whether Mitch Trubisky is poised to mimic the Year Two breakouts of Los Angeles' Jared Goff and Philadelphia's Carson Wentz last season.
Arkush: Bob, he might be a bit, shall we say, quieter than the funky QB Jim McMahon, but Mitch Trubisky received so many bright and shiny toys this offseason to set him up for success that he might need to borrow a pair of McMahon's shades. My question to you: Did the fast ascent of Goff, the reigning Comeback Player of the Year, and Wentz, who was on track to be the league's MVP through 13 weeks before his injury, set the bar too high for Trubisky?
LeGere: Arthur, I believe the comparisons to Goff and Wentz have set the bar way too high and are a bit unfair to Trubisky. Not to disparage Trubisky, but he's in the first year of a new offense. Wentz used his rookie season to learn in an existing scheme and then built upon that knowledge in Year Two. Nothing Trubisky learned in last year's offense will benefit him in Matt Nagy's new system. Goff did not have that advantage, but he and Wentz were both familiar with most of their receivers. Trubisky will be throwing to five key targets that he has never worked with in a regular-season game — WRs Allen Robinson, Kevin White, Taylor Gabriel and rookie Anthony Miller, along with TE Trey Burton
Arkush: I don’t disagree with the comparisons being unfair (sorry, Mitch), but the only notable pass catcher with whom Goff had any carryover rapport from Year 1 to Year 2 was his running back, Todd Gurley. Remember, the Rams’ receiving-TD leader, Sammy Watkins, arrived via trade last August, a few months after their yardage leader, rookie Cooper Kupp, and second-leading catcher, Robert Woods. Still, I catch your drift and will come at this a little differently: What would constitute a successful season for Trubisky?
LeGere: The most important numbers for any quarterback are wins and losses so, at the very least, Trubisky has to help drive the Bears out of the double-digit-loss rut they've been spinning their wheels in for four years. A .500 record seems reasonable, given the help that should be provided by a solid-though-unspectacular defense and the offensive upgrades. An 8-8 record might be enough to get the Bears out of the NFC North cellar, where they've resided since 2014. Specifically, for Trubisky, he must improve his 7-7 TD-INT ratio to at least two TDs to every INT he throws. Wentz went from 16 TDs and 14 INTs as a rookie to 33-7 in Year Two, and Goff improved from a 5-to-7 ratio to 28-to-7. Even without as strong of a supporting cast, Trubisky is capable of a 2-to-1 ratio.
Arkush: In projecting Trubisky’s season stats for our 2018 Fantasy Guide (shameless plug: it’s on newsstands now!), I landed on a 21-to-10 TD-INT ratio for him. Our PFW Preview Guide (double your fun, won’t you?) projected the Bears to finish 7-9, one game behind the Lions. Sure, I teed up this discussion with some lofty comparisons, but our expectations aren’t all that different. But if we’re going to see a different Mitch and more exciting Bears offense, one other area he must improve markedly is yards per attempt: Trubisky’s 6.6, though better than Goff’s and Wentz’s as rookies, tied for 24th among all NFL qualifiers. Nagy’s 21st-century offense and play calling should naturally improve this, right?
LeGere: I agree, and it's not just Nagy. Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich has an innovative mind and brings a different perspective to the offense, and Nagy wisely retained QB coach Dave Ragone, who developed a solid rapport with Trubisky last year. That 21-10 TD-INT ratio seems about right, and would represent a solid step forward for Trubisky, even if it wouldn't be nearly as spectacular as what Wentz and Goff did in their second years.