Mitch Trubisky doesn’t even have a signed contract yet, but his 2017 season has so many alternate endings, M. Night Shyamalan would blush.
Which one is your favorite?
The one where the best-case scenario has Trubisky sitting on the sidelines watching and learning from Mike Glennon’s mistakes. It’s a position NFC North experts share at a near-unanimous level. Or perhaps the one where the Bears organization takes on Jeff Saturday’s suggestion and allows for an open competition at the starting quarterback position. After all, a six-time Pro Bowl center who spent much of his career snapping the pigskin to Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers should know a thing or two about the value of quarterback play, right?
While the Bears might prefer to keep Trubisky shackled to bench and limit his participation to practice only, chances are Trubisky will eventually see the field in 2017 – even if it’s in a minor role. Over at ESPN, K.C. Joyner projects how much playing time each of the NFL’s 32 first-round draft picks will receive, using snap count rate as a guide. It’s an ESPN Insider piece, so I won’t share too much beyond what is pertinent to the Bears, but we can discuss it a little bit.
Joyner projects Trubisky to get 31.3 percent of the snaps at quarterback in 2017 – which means he’s going to make some starts as a rookie. Here is how Joyner sees it playing out:
“Trubisky will likely take over the starting job once the Bears’ record indicates their 2017 season will not include a playoff berth. He is therefore being penciled in for four starts, plus some fill-in time.”
Maybe the Bears will make the playoffs, keeping Trubisky off the playing field in the process. It’s one of the many factors that could play into what the Bears do with Trubisky in 2017.
However, in case that doesn’t happen, let’s give that 31.3 percent number some perspective. Last year, Brian Hoyer played 31.1 percent of the snaps at quarterback, playing in six games (five starts) in his only year with the Bears. Matt Barkley made six starts, and took the highest percentage of snaps at the position (40.8%) overall. While Jay Cutler, who opened the season as the starting quarterback, finished his pro football career playing only 27.1 percent of the team’s snaps.
Fifty-four quarterbacks started at least one game last season, including 46 who made at least two starts, and 38 who made four starts or more. Four teams had at least two quarterbacks who started at least three games in 2016, while only 14 teams had quarterbacks who started all 16 games. Statistically speaking, the odds suggest that your team will start a backup quarterback at some point during the season. It’s simply the nature of the beast at this position.
So then, it isn’t crazy to guess that Trubisky will start a game or two as a rookie, even if it isn’t a part of the Bears’ plans. How many he takes thereafter, however, is the question.