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The Bears Risk-Averse Play Calling with Trubisky Continues to Come at a Price

Analysis and Commentary

The Chicago Bears have done everything to limit Mitch Trubisky – handcuffs, bubble wrap, risk-averse play-calling … everything! But their game plan of forcing a square peg into a round hole (i.e. asking the defense to win the game while turning the rookie QB into a game manager) didn’t just not work, it came at a price.


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The New Orleans Saints forced Trubisky to drop back 37 times on Sunday, and the results weren’t great:

  • Season-high 32 pass attempts
  • Season-high 14 completions
  • Season-low 43.8 completion percentage
  • Season-low 46.9 passer rating
  • Season-low 5.1 yards per attempt
  • Season-low 3.7 adjusted yards per attempt

You get the picture.

According to Pro Football Focus, Trubisky – who was given a below average 61.5 grade from PFF for Sunday’s performance, and went just 5 of 15 for 31 yards and an interception when facing pressure (he was sacked twice and hit seven times by New Orleans defenders). Either Trubisky or the team’s pass protection (most likely both) need to make adjustments as opponents continue to turn up the heat on the rookie.

And because nothing good was to come of that game from an offensive perspective (save for Tarik Cohen’s nifty goal line plunge) Trubisky’s highlight was a 25-yard touchdown strike to tight end Zach Miller, which was eventually overturned and ruled an incomplete pass (and, of course, led to Miller’s career-threatening injury). Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

The Bears have employed an ultra conservative game plan since moving Trubisky into the starting lineup, and it showed in his play against the Saints on Sunday. Trubisky looked rusty at times and struggled to find a rhythm, which is to be expected when you’re asked to only throw 48 passes in a three-game stretch. While receiving the full share of practice reps and throws, there is nothing that properly simulates the kind of throws a quarterback is asked to make when the games matter.


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Naturally, Trubisky made some impressive plays due to his raw talent and athleticism. His 45-yard throw to Tre McBride III and dazzling 46-yard run stand out as the kind of plays you can dream on. Trubisky also had some face-palm worthy moments, like locking in on McBride, missing connections with Cohen and Dion Sims, and throwing that back-breaking interception. Such is the plight for a rookie quarterback with minimal experience in an offense that has limited offensive firepower.

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

To be fair, there isn’t an argument against the team centering its play calling around its best assets. Making use of a tandem rushing attack led by Pro Bowl running back Jordan Howard and rookie Tarik Cohen in conjunction with an offensive line that was expected to be among the league’s best before the season is an ideal way to lessen the burden on the rookie quarterback who is getting acclimated with running a pro style offense. Trubisky, who’s started just 17 games since graduating high school, is getting a crash course in running an offense.

Game situations haven’t allowed Trubisky many opportunities to get a feel for the kind of throws he needs to make to win games at this level. Now, to be fair, Trubisky might be learning how not to lose games, which some quarterbacks don’t learn until later in their career, but clearly the Bears haven’t struck a balance between the two just yet.


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The offensive brain trust has 12 days until the team’s next game, and each should be used to build a game plan their rookie can win with in Week 10.


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Luis Medina

Luis is the Lead Writer at The Ten-Yard Line, and you can find him on Twitter at @lcm1986.