Film Review: Where Mitch Trubisky needs to grow
Mitch Trubisky threw for over 300 yards in his first career playoff game. However, if he wants to lead his team to a playoff victory, he needs to refine the finer things
Before starting, let it be known that this is not meant to slam Mitch Trubisky. He is still one of the least experienced starters in the NFL, and that includes rookies behind him considering snaps after high school. It was his first playoff game; it was Matt Nagy’s first with Trubisky. The two will grow.
Heck, Trubisky grew as the game went on. He got better every quarter and made two huge passes with the game on the line late. However, he also showed a bit of a hurriedness, and usability to hone in the finer areas of the game. This is what set him and the offense back.
Take this thread here. The first tweet is a still of Ben Braunecker running down the seam free. I know, Braunecker is not the best option. However, that is why the Eagles have one safety far away from the middle of the field, and the other safety is occupying two wide receivers.
Trubisky is in a clean pocket, and an anticipatory throw would hit the tight end in stride over the middle of the field between the two safeties. It is tough to make, but in the playoffs against a great defense, you want nothing more than a throw to hit your receiver in stride over the middle as the coverage is too late to shift over.
However, here is his reaction. He sees it. But he hesitates a bit as he feels the rush coming in on him. He then looks at the rush, and his chance is gone. What is good to note is that Trubisky stood in the pocket for an extra second on two occasions later in the game. However, it was clear early into the game that he had a hesitation when it came to standing in the pocket with the added speed of the playoffs.
The next play is another hesitation by Trubisky. He steps up and cocks his arm back. However, he thinks about it for a second. Then, he decides he made the right decision and wished he had a do-over. He tries to muscle it there with a quick step and fire, but he wound up bounce passing a ball to Taylor Gabriel.
The hesitation came again right before the half. This is the pass in which he almost threw an interception in the end zone. The play is linked here. Unfortunately, the All-22 at Soldier Field is not great, but you can see Tarik Cohen is open towards the flat. The player in which throws to runs a post over the middle and another receiver runs an out-post.
When the receiver over the middle takes the safety with him, it puts Avonte Maddox, the Eagles cornerback in a tight spot. He has to defend Cohen in the flat, but also has the outward breaking receiver.
Trubisky could force Maddox to declare which receiver to break on and then hit the other. He could pump to Cohen and hit his man over Maddox’s head. However, he was feeling and thinking about the pressure and made a poor decision.
Not long after he was in a similar spot in the red zone. As shown here he has Cohen flaring out and a receiver taking away coverage from his side by running to the middle of the field. As you can see in the picture here, Trubisky drops back into a clean pocket.
He is looking at the post, which is drawing Maddox away from the flat. However, he decides instead to step up into space and take off running. Watch his reaction. At the last second, he shoulder fakes towards Cohen. It looks as if he saw him at the last second and realized that should have been his decision. He was going to throw to him but lost a fumble throwing the football backward to Cohen across his body on a similar play earlier in the season. Two steps after he left the pocket he knew he needed to stand in there and make that pass.
The next play came late in the third quarter. This is something that is going to have to be worked on with Trubisky this offseason. He is in a clean pocket. There is the smallest bit of pressure from his right, and he starts hopping left. However, the more he moves he starts backing into pressure. This causes him to force a bad pass with a defender in his face.
Trubisky will have to learn to feel more comfortable in muddy pockets. Trubisky has to stand tall as pressure may form around him. Again, these are things that veterans do, and are finer points of the game that are not necessarily expected at this point from Trubisky. However, these were situations throughout the game that came back to haunt him.
This last play came with a 15-10 Bears lead. Not a good reaction by Trubisky here. The worst part is seeing Allen Robinson wide open down the field. Now watch the play again. Trubisky is looking left to right. He sees Robinson. Once again he is ready to throw. Check the still image here. He is in a clean pocket looking at an open receiver. However, as he pulls his arm back, he once again has the pass rush on his mind. It causes him to pull his arm back and duck down. He avoided the initial rush but was unable to make a play.
Trubisky overcame these issues and stood in the pocket for a few big passes. Overall it has to be looked at as a step forward for Trubisky. There is no simulation for the real thing, and Trubisky felt the speed and intensity of playoff football for the first time on Sunday.
How he grows from this will tell his story. It was fast, bodies were flying everywhere, and he was not comfortable standing in and making reads. If the Bears want to take a step forward small things like footwork in the pocket, making anticipatory throws and manipulating defenders will need to be a part of the repertoire.
The experience the coaching and a second year in the same offense will surely help. Watching the response by Mitch Trubisky will be fun.