Mitchell Trubisky vs. DeShone Kizer: Handling Pressure

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 03: Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 03: Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky /

How does the only other rookie quarterback getting real playing time look compared to Mitchell Trubisky?

When the Chicago Bears host the Cleveland Browns it will be the first time that the Bears face off with a rookie quarterback. Only DeShaun Watson, DeShone Kizer, C.J. Beathard, Nathan Peterman and Mitchell Trubisky have started this season, and these are the only two currently holding that title.

So, as the two square off on Sunday it is a good chance to look back and see how the two have grown, and compare them in certain areas of the game. In this three-part breakdown, we will look at sacks, incompletions and interceptions to see how they stack up.

First, we look at sacks. While DeShone Kizer was sacked 31 times to just 25 for Trubisky, Trubisky played in three fewer games. Therefore it will be looked at in percentages.

While you can find blame in all 11 players as a  cohesive group for unit breakdowns, usually there is one thing that sets that off the chain reaction or one area that can take the majority of the blame on a particular play. For example, the plays below would be coverage sacks for Trubisky and Kizer.

On these plays, the blame should be placed on the coaches. For the Bears, five curl routes? Trubisky is staring down pressure while all five players are turning their back to him, looking for any form of separation. This is putting the rookie in a bad spot. Same for Kizer. Two posts and a go on the left with a cross underneath on the right. This works in Madden, but the Ravens talented back-end read it like a book. Add in the lack of playmakers on each side, and these quarterbacks were dropped into bad situations.

This aside, 33% of the Bears sacks could be blamed on Trubisky. 17% can be charged to Charles Leno. 13% were due to coverage like the play above. 13% were Bobby Massie, 13% were Benny Cunningham, 8% were Bradley Sowell, and Josh Sitton and Zach Miller also could responsible for 4% of the team’s sacks.

DeShone Kizer has been better overall in the pocket when handling pressure than Trubisky. Kizer was sacked 31 times so far this year but 29% of his sacks were due to the poor play of left tackle Spencer Drango. Drango came in to replace Joe Thomas and has only started eight games this season. Still, somehow the majority of the Browns sacks this season have come specifically from him being beat off of the ball. 26% of Kizer’s sacks were due to coverage. Yes, a team that gets less separation than Bears wide receivers exists. 16% are on Kizer. 10% are on Shon Coleman, 7% are on Isaiah Crowell and Joel Bitonio and 3% of the blame can go to JC Tretter and Kevin Zeitler.

The first big take away from this exercise is that if Benny Cunningham allowed multiple sacks why is still seeing the field over Tarik Cohen at all?

That gripe aside, it is worth noting that Kizer navigates the pocket well and looks more comfortable in that position. Trubisky adds to his sack issue.

Take the play below for example. Trubisky has time in the pocket. He has to feel the pressure coming on the left side. His check down is coming out of the backfield and is springing free with space. Once he feels the pressure this should be an easy dump off. Instead, he feels it too late and curls up for the sack.

Again, on the play below the lack of ability to recognize the pressure costs Trubisky. Watch how long it takes for him to recognize that a massive, dynamic athlete is bearing down on him. A clean pocket with plenty of avenues to avoid this pressure slowly turned into a turn your back and run backward moment for Trubisky as he failed to notice the heat.

Stepping up

The big difference between the two seems to be how Kizer has an ability to extend plays, at least for another second. It shows his recognition to pressure and why he would get less of the blame than Trubisky for these sacks.

On the play below, he knows the pressure is coming from the right. It makes him roll to the left as he looks for an open target. Without finding anyone, the pressure does bear down on him. Still, he pump fakes, steps up in the pocket and does spare his team five or six yards from his first move to beat the pressure.

In fact, on 42% of the sacks, Kizer was able to either make the initial defender miss, or he was able to avoid pressure long enough to extend the play and pick up an extra yard or two. Take the play below, for example, he can feel the pressure coming and moves in the pocket to extend it.

On the contrary, one of the reasons in which Trubisky has taken more of the blame than Kizer when it comes to sacks is how he handles that pressure. Trubisky tends to step into pressure and show more panic than a poise to extend plays.

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Take the play below for example. Watch his left foot. First, the pocket is clean. When he doesn’t have his first read, he gets worried about the pressure. He plants hard with his left foot, completely taking himself out of the play. He now would have to flip his whole body to set his feet to throw. He opened his body wide so running left would be a task. So while he chose to run right, he stepped up to pressure. Had he been a step quicker maybe the athlete Trubisky does squeeze through that lane. Still, his indecisiveness and uneasiness in the pocket hurt him.

Again, while Kizer was stepping away from clear pressure on missed blocks. Trubisky is running towards his offensive line as they hold off defenders from him. This more or less shows Trubisky has the intentions of extending plays as a runner more than a passer. That is not where you want to be.

This is a series that is going to be breaking down sacks, incompletions and interceptions. It is going to be extremely critical. Still, it is worth noting that Kizer, despite being in a mess of a situation has shown more poise in the pocket. Does it have to do with more playing time, especially in the preseason? Most likely. Still, his progression in this area has to grow. Part two can be found later today.