2019 training camp roster analysis
During offseason work Mitchell Trubisky was asked by media members which stats concern him most.
He didn't say passer rating or completion percentage or any next-gen stats or even his Madden rating, which was terrible.
"Wins and losses," Trubisky predictably said. "Getting to the playoffs and trying to win every game."
It's the attitude every quarterback has to take.
In Trubisky's case, some quarterbacks who lacked the elite passing numbers of Aaron Rodgers or Patrick Mahomes have actually won Super Bowls when paired with elite defenses. And this is the approach the Bears must take with a young, learning passer.
Despite his reluctance to look at real statistics, there are statistics Trubisky needs to improve when training camp work begins. They are stats reflecting weak spots in his game.
Three statistics in particular have to become much better for Trubisky this season when compared with the previous 10 quarterbacks of Super Bowl champions.
Improving his passer rating from 95.4 would be an asset, but would come up naturally if he improves on these other aspects of his game.
Completion percentage is not one of these. At 66.6 percent completions last year, Trubisky was already better than seven of the last 10 starters for Super Bowl winners. Even Aaron Rodgers, in 2010 (65.7), had worse completion percentage than Trubisky had last year.
It isn't being able to escape from sacks to throw. Half the last 10 champion QBs were sacked more than his 24 sacks taken.
It's pretty simple. Trubisky needs to throw for more yardage, throw fewer interceptions and throw more touchdown passes.
If he does those three things, two other critical statistics will improve. Those stats are interception percentage and yards per pass attempt.
Passer rating will also get better but that in itself isn't overly critical. His 95.4 passer rating last year was already better than three of the 10 champion quarterbacks.
Trubisky threw for only 3,223 yards last season in 14 games. He was nowhere near eight of the last 10 Super Bowl winners. The two he had more yards than were players who played in far fewer games than he did – Peyton Manning in 2015 and Carson Wentz in 2017. Wentz obviously wasn't the QB in the Super Bowl but was the starter most of the year.
Trubisky's 7.3 yards per attempt were better than three of the QBs and close to another one, but one of the best ways to inflict damage traditionally is a higher yards per attempt. Usually this is somewhere near 8.0 or higher. So if Trubisky gets passes completed further downfield or gets more yardage off shorter passes, the total goes up for yardage and yards an attempt.
Only two of the 10 champion QBs had as many interceptions as Trubisky has (12) last year. Only three threw for as few touchdowns (24). Toss out the touchdown totals of Manning in 2015 and Wentz in 2017 due to too few games played, and the average Super Bowl winner throws 31.5 TD passes with 9.9 interceptions.
So if Trubisky throws seven or eight more TD passes and a couple less interceptions, he's right there with the best of the best.
If Trubisky throws for about 550 yards more in 2019, he's right on average with the 10 Super Bowl winners.
How he accomplishes these tasks has been tackled by many of those who love analytics. Some point out he has to be much better throwing 20 yards or more over the middle, and to the right side as his passer rating in those places has been abysmal.
There are many ways to achieve this, and the best is to run the ball effectively and gain more yardage off passes to backs, because it draws defenders in those spots on the field away from their assignments to concentrate on other areas and leads to open receivers and bigger downfield gains.
In some ways, Trubisky's mobility is always going to make it difficult to get the ball downfield over the middle or even somewhat so along the sideline. Taylor Gabriel pointed out defenses played an extraordinary amount of zone against the Bears last year partly to keep from getting burned by Trubisky's running. Man-to-man defenses are always easier for running quarterbacks to hurt because defenders have their backs to the line and don't see him coming up the field. And if they're in zone, they're going to prevent the big pass downfield.
It's up to Matt Nagy to find ways for Trubisky to get those gains more often downfield and then his quarterback to execute them.
Key questions about this group
- Will Trubisky become better at reading defenses? The first thing Nagy said after the season was Trubisky has to be better at presnap reads, or knowing what defenses are doing by looking at them before the snap. It's a natural progression for Year 3 in the league, Year 2 in the system for a successful passer.
- Will Trubisky's decision-making improve in his second year within the offense? He needs to stop making so many ill-advised throws. Trubisky's great strength is mobility and being able to throw from different points, yet he often makes some of his most risky decisions later in plays after he's scrambled around looking for receivers.
- Can Trubisky improve as a deep thrower? He hasn't been at his best with back-shoulder throws or jump-ball situations and he has a receiver in Allen Robinson who excels at this. So does rookie Riley Ridley.
- Will the Bears use Trubisky's running better with more effective read-option runs? They did it rarely last year and probably not as effectively as they should considering his mobility. He needs to be better with is fakes to make this work, and the backs have to be better selling the handoff to defenders.
- Will Trubisky learn to get down on scrambles? Not doing it cost him two starts last season. If he started against the Giants, who knows? The Bears might finish 13-3 and don't have to play the Eagles in a
- Will they keep Tyler Bray on the roster?
The bubble boys
Bray. Chase Daniel is obviously the experienced backup. Bray knows the system but has no experience. He also has maxed out in practice squad time so he'll either need to be on the 53-man roster or be cut. Do they want to carry three quarterbacks or leave the spot to another position?
A player who could surprise
Trubisky. Last year he went from seven touchdown passes to 24 and improved his passer rating by more points than any other starter but some analysts turned against him, particularly Pro Football Focus. They gave him a worse overall score than the previous year in their "uniquely creative" scoring system. So if Trubisky suddenly steps up again in his second year under Nagy, there should be a lot of surprised analytical types.