CHICAGO - To improve his body language, Mitch Trubisky last week studied the television copy of the Bears-Chargers game at the behest of coach Matt Nagy - who got the idea from his mentor, Chiefs coach Andy Reid.
Perhaps this week Reid can suggest Nagy watch Sunday's nationally televised Ravens-Patriots matchup to see how a team maximizes the talent of an athletic quarterback.
The Ravens routed the Patriots, 37-20, with a dynamic offense that revolves around the unique skill set of Lamar Jackson, a league MVP contender. In no way does Trubisky pose as big of an all-around threat as the multidimensional Jackson - only a few quarterbacks do. But the Bears can learn from the way the Ravens have tailored their play-calling to accentuate Jackson's strengths.
Bucking convention, coach John Harbaugh's offensive staff incorporated Jackson's feet as much as his arm and became an AFC front-runner. They moved the pocket and called designed quarterback runs to take advantage of Jackson's elusiveness. They fit the weekly game plan around their quarterback's style rather than force their quarterback's style into the weekly game plan.
The Bears have yet to do that with Trubisky, their biggest liability offensively but far from the only one. After the Packers held the Bears without a touchdown in the season opener, cornerback Tramon Williams loudly revealed the successful game plan to "make Mitch play quarterback," and Nagy inadvertently has contributed to that notion by making Trubisky a more stationary passer. Defenses don't respect the Bears' play-action passing game because Nagy struggles so mightily committing to the run. That tendency reduces the number of rollouts that, for whatever reason, improve Trubisky's accuracy and effectiveness.
A conventional pocket passer he isn't. Accept that and adjust. If the harness Trubisky wears on his left shoulder limits his mobility, then the Bears should consider resting the quarterback. This season has exposed the fact Trubisky doesn't throw well enough to play if he cannot run his way out of trouble, which he did successfully in 2018, when football life was good in Chicago.
Nagy came to the Bears touted as an offensive guru, much of which was on display during a 12-4 season that stamped him the NFL Coach of the Year. But what we all neglected to see - perhaps blinded by the disco ball inside "Club Dub" - was how a defensive anomaly contributed to the Bears' offensive identity. The Bears led the league last season with a ridiculously high 36 takeaways but have only 11 this year. All those short fields and big leads that allowed for so much offensive imagination have been missing in 2019. The only thing opposing defensive coordinators find baffling is figuring out what exactly the Bears do well enough to eliminate first. As a result, nothing has come as easily for a Bears offense led by a quarterback clearly lacking confidence.
Trubisky sits in last place among starting quarterbacks with 173.9 passing yards per game. He is 30th in passer rating at 80.0 and 33rd in yards per attempt (5.6) in a passing scheme that stretches the field more horizontally than vertically. In six games, Trubisky has the same number of touchdown passes as he does carries on designed running plays - five. A quarterback who merely needed to put up middle-of-the-pack numbers for the Bears to maintain playoff hopes instead has floundered badly enough to rank among the league's worst, affecting every offensive player in the huddle. You know teammates know this.
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Ample reason exists for Nagy to replace Trubisky with backup Chase Daniel for the Lions game. No, not all the fault lies on Trubisky's shoulders. Key drops Sunday against the Eagles hurt the Bears in a 22-14 loss. And that historically bad first half was as much a result of the offensive line as the quarterback - as former Bears center and WSCR-AM analyst Olin Kreutz tweeted Tuesday.
"Just watched the All-22 film of the first half of the Eagles game," Kreutz posted on his Twitter account. "Don't put any of that on Mitch the Line has to play better. Mitch had no chance...Yes, that was hard for me to write."
Still, it's inconceivable that an NFL coach who has endured Trubisky's body of work can convince his 52 other players that Trubisky gives the Bears the best chance to beat the Lions. Nagy's defiant tone after the Chargers loss has been followed by denial. It might be different if Trubisky's issues didn't extend well beyond the first half against the Eagles. After 34 NFL starts, the uncomfortable truth about Trubisky has emerged. He has regressed, a once-promising No. 2 pick now too inconsistent and inaccurate to trust with the keys to the franchise.
The entire organization no longer can be all about the development of Trubisky. Better alternatives could exist on the open market in the offseason, in order of preference, from Teddy Bridgewater to Marcus Mariota to Cam Newton to Nick Foles to Andy Dalton. But that's a deeper discussion for another day.
When it comes to the most important position on the field, the present outweighs the future for the 3-5 Bears. Win a game. Worry about the quarterback's psyche later. Who says the Bears can't bench Trubisky now and bring him back if Daniel fails? Only one rule guides NFL teams stuck in a four-game losing streak: Do whatever it takes to end it. An efficient Daniel increases the odds of ending it more than an erratic Trubisky does.
If Nagy insists on sticking with Trubisky as the starter against the Lions - as he indicated with Monday's endorsement - then he must help the quarterback help himself. Get his adrenaline pumping. Script an early quarterback draw. Move the pocket. Use the I formation to establish the run and set up the play-action pass. Utilize what Trubisky still does well and make it about him, not the offense.
The way the Ravens did with their young quarterback.
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