“Should Mitch Trubisky start as a rookie (and if so, when)?”
It’s a question that has been asked countless times already this offseason and will continue to be asked until the day Trubisky finally gets the call and is starting under center.
Over at the NFL Network, the NFL Total Access team dissected the situation and debated whether Trubisky should get that call sooner, rather than later, or if he should even get it at all as a rookie. As I’m sure you can imagine, there’s not much of a consensus right now, but there are some interesting points worth sharing as we move into training camp, and eventually into the preseason.
Head coach John Fox’s potential position on the hot seat was discussed as a possible factor that could dictate whether or not Trubisky plays. Fox is in the third year of a four-year contract, and the first two seasons haven’t gone well if you look at the won-loss column. Chicago is 9-23 under Fox, and the offense has averaged just 19.2 points per game in two seasons worth of games. Fox, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, and quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone could conclude that Trubisky is ready to go and gives the team a better shot to win than free agent addition Mike Glennon.
On the other hand, the early portion of the Bears’ schedule is looking kinda tough and it could be asking a lot of a rookie quarterback to successfully navigate through the Falcons, Buccaneers, Steelers, and Packers in the first four weeks to start the year. It doesn’t get much easier in the second quarter of the season with Vikings, Ravens, Panthers, and Saints lurking before the bye.
Perhaps the Bears would look at starting Trubisky after the bye week against the Packers – after eight weeks of practice reps and an extra week of film study against the Bears’ long-time rivals. And starting with Week 12, five of the Bears’ final six games will be against teams that missed the playoffs in 2016. So if you’re looking for a window where Glennon takes a back seat to Trubisky, it might be in the stretch run in what could be some wretched conditions to play the position.
Dak Prescott, Carson Wentz, Cody Kessler, and Jared Goff were the high-profile rookies from the class of 2016 who started at some point for their respective teams last season. Prescott and Wentz were Week 1 starters, while Kessler and Goff entered in the middle of the season. One could make the argument that the quartet of rookie starters is better off for the experience each gained as a rookie. Prescott led the Dallas Cowboys to the playoffs, contributing with 3,667 passing yards, 23 touchdowns and just four interceptions to go along with a 103.4 rating. Wentz threw for 3,782 yards and had more touchdowns (16) than interceptions (14) for a rebuilding Eagles team that finished 7-9. Kessler posted a 92.3 rating even though the Cleveland Browns were 0-8 in his starts.
On the other hand, Goff’s struggles were the cherry on top of a dreadful year for the Los Angeles Rams. Goff posted a 63.6 rating in his seven winless starts, throwing more interceptions (7) than touchdowns (5). Retired Pro Bowl receiver Reggie Wayne believes the Rams did Goff no favors by throwing him to the wolves at the end of the season, as Goff joined what Wayne described as a “demoralized” Rams team that lost four of its five games prior to his debut en route to losing 11 of its final 12.
Whether it’s Trubisky or Glennon, it will tough to bottom out in a worse way than what Bears quarterbacks did in 2016. Despite the admirable efforts of Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley in relief of Jay Cutler, Bears signal callers posted a collective 81.8 rating, threw as many touchdowns (19) as they did interceptions (19), and completed just 62.1 percent of their passes.
It’s an admittedly low bar to clear, but it might not be worth risking potential development of a long-term answer for the small chance of a short-term gain.