I’ve been doing a deep dive into Chicago’s offense from a variety of perspectives, and want to wrap that up today with a closer look at Trubisky. I’ve already written about him several times this offseason, talking about:
- How his approach changed as the 2018 season wore on.
- How he was really good on short stuff but struggled throwing the ball deep
- How nearly 1/2 of his interceptions were caused by poor accuracy on deep balls
- Why there is reason to believe his deep ball will improve
- How he excelled against zone coverage, except for throwing too many interceptions
Today I want to look at how wildly his performance fluctuated with the caliber of defense that he faced. Honestly, this was not the article I set out intending to write. I first did this research with the hypothesis that Trubisky did better in early games – when there was less pressure from a national audience – and struggled in primetime games where more people were paying attention. Just watching those games, it always looked to me like Trubisky was tense, like he was putting too much pressure on himself and thus not performing well. It seemed to me like he was more relaxed in early games that got less attention, which enabled him to just go out and play.
And there might be some truth to that; Trubisky posted a passer rating of 114.4 in early games, 89.9 in late afternoon games, and 63.0 in night games. But two of the four night games (Green Bay and Seattle) came in the first two weeks of the season, when Trubisky was just not comfortable in the offense yet. He was awful in an afternoon game against Arizona the next week too before breaking out in Week 4.
I then noticed that the other two night games – when he also struggled mightily – were against the Rams and Vikings, two of the better defenses the Bears faced all season. In fact, those were statistically his 2 worst games of the year, with 3 of the next 4 bad ones being the 3 weeks before he broke out. And thus a different hypothesis emerged, and I started exploring how well Trubisky performed against good and bad defenses.