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Examining the QB options: Mitchell Trubisky is the guy Vic Fangio knows, but will that matter?

Andrew Mason Avatar
March 8, 2021

Seventh in a series

PREVIOUS ENTRIES: Nick Foles | Marcus Mariota | Andy Dalton | Tyrod Taylor | Alex Smith | Ryan Fitzpatrick


  • EXPERIENCE: 5th year

THE HIGHS: He has a 2-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio in two of his last three regular seasons. The Broncos haven’t had a season in which their quarterbacks have collectively thrown at least twice as many touchdowns as interceptions since 2014.

His entire 2018 season offered glimpses that the Bears made the right call in making him the first quarterback selected in the 2017 NFL Draft. That year, he ranked third in ESPN QBR and 16th in passer rating. It was good enough to offer the Bears hope that a quarterback search that has covered most of the last 70 years would finally halt for a while.

THE LOWS: In 2019, he ranked 30th in QBR and 28th in passer rating, leading Chicago to sign Nick Foles as a veteran hedge. After he followed a 3-touchdown, no-interception performance in Week 1 of 2020 with 3 scores and 3 picks in the next six quarters and one series, the Bears yanked him for Foles.

When Chicago’s offense averaged 15.7 points per game in the next seven contests, Trubisky got the job back. In the seven games he played after returning to the lineup, Chicago’s offense percolated, averaging 26.9 points per game — although it bogged down in the regular-season finale against Green Bay and the wild-card loss at New Orleans, mustering just 25 points in those contests.

Over four seasons, Trubisky wasn’t bad, in the end sum. He was fairly average. Among the 34 quarterbacks with at least 250 attempts last season, he ranked 20th in passer rating and 21st in ESPN QBR. His completion percentage was 13th; his average per attempt was 23rd. The only major statistic in which he was outside of the NFL’s middle third was in interception rate, where he stood 29th.

FOUR-YEAR FORM (2017-20)

(Rankings are among 62 quarterbacks with at least 250 total plays — attempts, rushes and times sacked — over the past four years.)

  • PASSER RATING: 87.2, 32nd
  • YARDS PER ATTEMPT: 6.73, 39th
  • TOUCHDOWN-PASS RATE: One every 24.64 attempts, 32nd
  • SACK RATE: One every 15.21 pass plays, 31st
  • INTERCEPTION RATE: One every 42.62 attempts, 32nd
  • FUMBLE RATE: One every 69.6 plays, 37th
  • BALL-LOSS RATE (INTERCEPTIONS + FUMBLES): One every 29.34 plays, 34th

WHAT STANDS OUT: How average Trubisky is. In each of those eight categories, Trubisky sits squarely in the NFL’s middle third. He grew up in the Midwest — just outside of Cleveland, in Mentor, Ohio — and after matriculating at North Carolina, played four seasons for the Bears. He was a mid-range quarterback for a mid-range team in the middle third of the country.

The Bears’ 29-23 mark in games started by Trubisky (including postseason) doesn’t come out to a .500 average, but it’s close; it prorates to 8.9 wins and 7.1 losses.

WHY HE COULD BE A FIT: For better or for worse, Fangio knows him better than most, having seen him every day in practice for two years while he served as Chicago’s defensive coordinator. And Fangio offered public praise of Trubisky when given the opportunity.

In January 2018, when Fangio opted to stay with the Bears following the head-coaching change from John Fox to Matt Nagy, Fangio said that the presence of Trubisky was “part of the equation” as to why he stayed in Chicago.

“I think he has a chance to be a really good player, regardless of who is coaching him, so that was positive,” he said three years ago via ChicagoBears.com.

“No. 1, he’s got talent and you’ve got to have talent to play in this league at any position, but particularly that one. He’s a good worker. Football is important to him. He’s athletic, has ability to improvise and make plays, which you see each and every week when you watch games in the league. It’s an important quality to have. And I think he’s got good leadership skills and will be a good leader.”

Three weeks before that, Fangio was asked whether Trubisky had “it” as a quarterback:

His reply?

But all that is more than three years in the past.

After a promising 2018 season in which he did enough to complement Fangio’s top-ranked defense to get the Bears to a 12-4 record, Trubisky regressed in 2019, falling to the point where the Bears opted to not exercise the fifth-year option on him, which is why he is available now. One of Trubisky’s bright flashes during that 8-8 campaign was the last-gasp drive he led at Empower Field at Mile High.

WHY HE WOULDN’T BE: While Trubisky possesses two years of starting experience beyond what Lock brings, he doesn’t provide the “been-there, done-that” perspective that quarterbacks in their 30s would give to Lock. The two could certainly support each other in the quarterback room, but they would also be in a competition that — based on their prior experience — would appear to have them starting from a dead-even point.

If the Broncos’ priority is about providing a veteran to support Lock, Trubisky wouldn’t be the choice. But if the Broncos want to give themselves another quarterback who could potentially be the long-term answer, Trubisky makes sense — even though his price tag could push towards $8-$10 million for a one-year deal.

HOW THE BRONCOS MIGHT GET HIM: Via free agency. The Bears have made no obvious move to attempt to bring back Trubisky, and according to reports, they are fixated on attempting to trade for Seattle’s Russell Wilson after a bid for Carson Wentz fell short.


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