(This column first ran after the Saints game. There’s no point in rewriting it.)
If you want to spend this Monday criticizing the defensive performance over the last two weeks, go right ahead. But I’m not going to join you. Sure they have struggled getting off the field but the Bears have a collection of terrific defensive players and they’ll be just fine in the long run.
If you want to question the vision and direction of the head coach over your morning coffee, go right ahead. Matt Nagy’s play-calling has been suspect (at best) and the offense lacks any semblance of coherence. But Nagy’s going to get time to right this ship because unlike his most recent predecessors, he has a 12-4 division title on his resume.
If you want to discuss the fumbling or the blocked punts or whatever other mistakes are on your mind before lunch, feel free to do just that. Those things shouldn’t happen to championship-caliber clubs and championship-caliber is what was expected from the 2019 Chicago Bears.
But those things aren’t the story today.
The story was picked number two and wears number ten.
The story plays the most important position in professional sports.
The story is Mitch Trubisky.
And the story is over.
I have never used this space or Twitter to argue Trubisky is a good quarterback. At the same time, I have never argued he’s a bad quarterback either. I have argued – I believe fairly – that time was required to evaluate a player who entered the NFL with such limited collegiate experience. And considering the turnover he faced from Year One to Year Two, shouldn’t he be given more than a few games to find his footing in the league? For all of his struggles there were enough flashes of brilliance mixed in to keep a candle lit in Cafe Optimism.
The candle is out.
Sunday the Bears faced one of the best defenses in the league, with one of the finest secondaries. On two plays in the first half, both at pivotal moments, Nagy’s design found wide receivers running wide open. These were going to be huge, momentum-swinging plays. The first was Taylor Gabriel, alone on a deep out. The second was a third-and-short to a streaking Anthony Miller. The former should have been an easy twenty-yard gain. The latter should have been a touchdown. These were incredibly easy throws for a professional quarterback to make.
Trubisky missed both. Wildly.
You can teach a quarterback how to read a defense. You can’t teach accuracy. Quarterbacks either have it or they don’t. Trubisky doesn’t have it. And if you’re holding out hope that it someday will arrive, just go and find me the quarterback who became a better thrower in his fourth year. I’ll spare you the research. He doesn’t exist.
It’s not just the big misses that are concerning. Trubisky looks like he doesn’t belong in an NFL pocket. He’s panicky. He’s twitchy. The game doesn’t slow down for him. He doesn’t see plays develop quickly enough and often puts the football in problematic positions. His ability to extend plays with his legs – something the best QBs in the sport use – has been completely abandoned. Simply put, he’s lost.
Mitch step up in the pocket thanks
— Olin kreutz (@olin_kreutz) October 20, 2019
Many who cover or write about this team relish the opportunity to be negative. (Many of them are employed by the Chicago Tribune.) I do not. Mitch Trubisky being the guy was the best case scenario for anyone hoping to see the Bears win another Super Bowl title in the near future.
But just as important as his being the guy was, it is equally important for the organization to acknowledge his NOT being the guy. The Bears can’t afford to let this defensive window close while they experiment at quarterback. Trubisky should continue playing out this season because you can’t add a quarterback at the deadline and expect him to produce. But this organization will be negligent if they don’t bring in a veteran – one capable of starting – to challenge him next summer. Right now, Trubisky’s ceiling is competent. Nick Foles’ ceiling is Super Bowl MVP.
Might Trubisky turn this around? Sure. Anything is possible in sports. But what does “turn this around” even mean? Trubisky is never going to be a top tier quarterback in this league. He simply has too far to travel down that road and no quarterback is given the time he requires anymore.
Trubisky is not the guy. That’s obvious now. There’s no joy in my writing that statement. There’s probably no joy in your reading it. But that doesn’t make it untrue. How long will take Halas Hall to realize it?