Debunking excuses towards Mitch Trubisky

Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Chicago Bears fans have a list of excuses for Mitch Trubisky. Most of them are not as dramatic as they seem

This offseason is the biggest in the career of quarterback Mitch Trubisky. As we have identified with past quarterbacks in similar situations to Trubisky, years four and five, tell you everything you need to know about what your quarterback is. This has brought a lot of debate into the offseason as many Chicago Bears fans think that Trubisky is being hindered by his situation. In contrast, others see Trubisky dragging others down.

Bears fans who have defended Trubisky have clung to the idea that the offensive line let him down, his skill players dropped passes, and Matt Nagy got too self-confident in his play-calling abilities. There can be hints of truth in each statement, but hints of over-exaggeration to defend their quarterback as well.

Trubisky is not in the perfect situation, but his supporting cast is not the sole reason for his step back either.

Pass Protection Issues

The first thing that is pointed out with Trubisky and his struggles is his pass protection. The offensive line took a step back; there is no doubt about that. Losing Kyle Long, seeing Bobby Massie in and out of the lineup as well as the shuffling at center and guard, is not to be dismissed. However, the idea that Trubisky could not function because of how weak the line was is hyperbole.

Trubisky faced pressure on 32% of his dropbacks, according to PFF. Of quarterbacks who had over half of their teams pass attempts in 2019, 27 quarterbacks, Trubisky ranks 18th in percent of dropbacks where he faced pressure. Only nine quarterbacks saw less pressure. He ranks 15th in the NFL in getting hit as he throws as well. He also ranks fourth-best at getting balls batted down by defenders.

Sam Darnold, Daniel Jones, Russell Wilson, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Matt Ryan were the quarterbacks under pressure the most; all pressured on more than 7-11% of their dropbacks. They all got hit as they threw more, and all had more passes batted down at the line.

However, when it comes to taking sacks, Trubisky ranks fifth. That is where the narrative comes from. The issue is less about the offensive line and more about Trubisky under pressure.

Trubisky ranks sixth in pressure rate minus sack rate. Only Kyle Allen, Derek Carr, Andy Dalton, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Kyler Murray get sacked at a higher rate when they face pressure. The issue is not that the line is allowing pressure; it is that when Trubisky faces pressure, he takes sacks more than an average quarterback. The average time of sack for Trubisky is 4.04 seconds. This is the fourth-highest rate in the NFL. He can scramble and keep plays alive, but generally, he is taking sacks out of structure when the play breaks down, not because his offensive line got beat immediately.

These numbers are backed up by having the worst completion rate in the NFL under pressure, and the worst passer rating as well. This is not affected by throwaways either; he ranks 23rd out of those 27 in throwing the ball out of bounds to live another down. While others are throwing the ball away, to avoid pressure, he is taking sacks to make his line look worse. He does not function well under pressure, which overrates how often he actually was under pressure.

Play Calling

The play calling takes a lot of blame as well, and there is no doubt that it deserves some. However, this can be overstated as well.

The most surprising thing when looking at the sack and pressure rates of Trubisky was to see his average time to throw. In general, the Bears were built to get the ball into the hands of their playmakers and help their offensive line with quick passes.

Trubisky averaged 2.48 seconds per pass attempt, which is tied for fourth in the NFL. Generally, when Trubisky played on schedule, he was successful. He had nine touchdowns, four interceptions with a 69 completion rate, and an 86 passer rating when throwing the ball in 2.5 seconds or less.

However, when he held onto the ball, he had eight touchdowns, six interceptions, a 55% completion rate, and a 77 passer rating.

The year before, Trubisky had a 14-6 TD-INT rate, with a 77% completion rate and a 103 passer rating under 2.5 seconds. After 2.5 seconds, he had ten touchdowns, six picks, a 54% completion rate, and an 86 passer rating. Again, things were better in 2018 than in 2019 when it comes to surrounding players.

However, Trubisky was generally the same, which meant that he was better on schedule, and struggled when the play broke down. Remember, despite being fourth in average time to throw, he also had the fourth-highest seconds to sack rate. Even when the blocking held up, he created sacks and pressure when he had to hold onto the football.

Fans wanted to run the ball more, which is fair. However, the Bears were 11th in pass to run ratio, leaning pass-heavy, but not overwhelming. Another question has been about the lack of using Trubisky’s mobility to his advantage.

We have written about this extensively. However, as the season has gone on, we started to get our answers. After being hurt against the Vikings early into the season, it began to become clear that he was hesitant to run. Against the Detroit Lions, Trubisky ran to the sidelines on third and four, avoiding contact and a potential first down. He also pitched a ball on an option against the Rams well early, leaving the edge defender to wrap up David Montgomery for a loss, but sparing himself a hit.

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This can be shown in his scramble stats as well. Trubisky had 25 designed quarterback runs, which ranked 9th amongst quarterbacks. However, he ranked 14th in scrambles, with just 23. The coaches called more runs than he called for himself to run. He ranked sixth in yards on those designed calls but ranked 18th in scramble yards. He was hesitant to scramble, which was a vast difference between 2018 and 2019.

Skill Player Issues

Similarly to the line, the pass-catching core took a step back in 2018. Trey Burton was not healthy, and generally, no tight ends were. Taylor Gabriel missed time, and he and Tarik Cohen had higher than usual drop numbers.

Still, like the offensive line, while it was not perfect, it was not a hindrance either. Trubisky lost 23 receptions due to dropped passes. That ranks 20th of the 27 qualifying passers in drops per attempt.

Dak Prescott led all passers seeing 43 passes dropped. He still finished top three in the NFL in passing yards.

Taking away drops, spikes, throwaways, Trubisky had a 71.4 adjusted completion rate in 2019. He had a 71.1 adjusted completion rate in 2018. Drops were not the difference in 2019.


The offensive line suffered injuries and was not nearly as good in 2019 as 2018. Matt Nagy had questionable decisions throughout the season. The skill players were banged up, and everyone aside from Allen Robinson struggled at points throughout.

This does not take away from the fact that Trubisky struggled mightily. Trubisky created pressure and created sacks. He held the ball too long and missed his receivers more than they dropped passes from him. The Bears have problems, but the biggest is their current situation at quarterback.