Can Mitchell Trubisky show the improvement of being a more efficient passer in the second half of the season?
Since Mitchell Trubisky has taken over as a starter, the Chicago Bears have begun winning. The Bears are 2-2 since he has made career start number one. However, if you asked Trubisky to be completely honest, this likely is not the way he would have anticipated it going. Through four games Trubisky has completed less than half of his passes, he has as many interceptions as touchdowns and he has been sacked a whopping 11 times.
Of course, there are variables outside of his play contributing to these issues. The play calling is predictable, the pass protection is average at best, and the group of pass catchers almost certainly scrape the bottom of the barrel across the NFL. However, there is still reason to believe that Trubisky will improve on the field and statistically.
To start, there is the schedule in his first four games, he has faced the Minnesota Vikings, Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints. Those are four of the more respected defenses in the NFL. The Saints still are not elite like the other three, but their pass defense, led by Marshon Lattimore is in that top tier. However, moving forward, teams such as the Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns are seen on the schedule. This is a lot more navigable than what he was tossed into to start his career.
The play calling has been downright predictable. There is no way around it. Since Trubisky has taken over, the team has run the ball at alarmingly high rates. However, after a win against the Carolina Panthers that featured just seven pass attempts, the offense did open up a bit against the New Orleans Saints the following week. An offense that ran the ball on first and ten situations 80% of the time in the first three weeks with Trubisky did so just 66% of the time in his fourth start. As mentioned, the Saints defense is stingy against the pass, and it may not have seen the best results in an immediate glance at the new idea. However, adding any wrinkle or adjustment to what the opponent typically is expecting is important to helping the offense flow as a whole. It should pay off over time.
On top of play calling, it could help if the threat of passing is an actual threat. The Bears predictable playcalling can easily be linked to having two outside wide receivers with combined career numbers of nine receptions for 153
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yards. Tre McBride and Tanner Gentry were not getting the job done and were not making it possible to throw the ball aside from the obvious pass situations.
While it is not the biggest of splashes, the team acquired Dontrelle Inman and will work him into the offense this week. Inman is a possession receiver who uses his route selling to create space for himself in the short to intermediate passing game. Markus Wheaton is practicing and at the worst, he is a deep threat player who can open some things up underneath.
While the injury to Zach Miller was tragic and career-threatening, it does open a chance for Adam Shaheen, who at worst could be looked at as a red zone threat. It took over eight weeks to sort out, and it is not nearly sorted out yet. However, it is fair to assume that the pass catchers will at least be more NFL competent than what Trubisky is working with.
The schedule should be easier. The play calling should be a bit more open, and the pass catchers should present tougher matchups on paper. Now, it comes down to the play of Trubisky. Trubisky should be able to have a better statistical second half of the season and should be able to get his completion percentage up over the 50% mark and closer to the 60% mark that represents league average.