In the midst of a generally disappointing season for a sophomore with foundationally high expectations, Mitchell Trubisky remarkably took Week Four in the NFL by total storm, throwing for a sensational six touchdown passes. Before this outbreak, Trubisky only had nine total career passing touchdowns. Breaking multiple records in the process, Trubisky etches his name in Bears history for most touchdowns passes in a half and nearly hit Sid Luckman’s league-wide record of seven passing touchdowns in a game. The Bears haven’t seen a quarterback throw six touchdowns since Johnny Lujack accomplished it in 1949.
Clearly, Trubisky’s finest game of his career and the largest game from a Bears quarterback in decades, this game has a ton to celebrate. After an offseason loading up on offensive weapons and handpicking a coach to mold him into the franchise foreseen when the Bears traded up for the UNC product, expectations soared for a breakout year. But with only a single multi-touchdown game this season pre-Buccaneers, the hype train seemed to slow considerably, now transferring playoff hopes upon the dominant defense. So this outburst finally confirms all of our hopes for Trubisky from the offseason-a meteoric rise in production and talent.
But before fans and analysts can slap Super Bowl quarterback on the former second overall selection, we must delve a little deeper into this game.
Pure face value may express a breakout game from a quarterback who had yet to achieve his full potential. Though, at the core of it, the Buccaneers gifted him with some advantages that usually don’t come that often in the league. Firstly, half of his scores came off of wide-open targets. The defense never forced him to make great plays for yards. Most of his production originated from blown coverage and weak adjustment, which opened opportunities for easy lobs deep that would take an absolute duck to miss. Only Allen Robinson’s corner route had been heavily contested and required a perfectly delivered ball.
And continuing with the thread of little defensive shifts, Tampa barely blitzed the easily-startled signal caller and only pressured him three times in the first half, where he threw for five of his six touchdowns. Trubisky still remains as the worst passer when under pressure this season with a quarterback rating of 9.9 when pressured. Whether it be the Buccaneers’ sheer inability to rush the pass or spectacular offensive line play, any NFL quarterback will shred a defense when allowed extended time in the pocket.
Really, the shining coaching from Matt Nagy had this game drawn up against a defense wired to allow this level of a performance. The puzzled Buccaneers have a mistake-prone, poorly coached secondary who possess the worst passing defense in the league. Staring multiple rookies, Tampa’s defensive back crew suffer from inexperience and won’t be able to keep up with an offense cleverly utilizing verts switch concepts and short crossing routes, plays designed to pick apart a defense that can’t communicate well and primarily run man coverages. So in turn, Nagy pounded these concepts into the gameplan.
Trey Burton and Joshua Bellamy pulled down touchdown from verts switch that only bewildered the Buccaneers secondary. In Burton’s case, the safety just tripped, leaving him wide-open. And Tarik Cohen and Taylor Gabriel both reeled in deep balls from borderline the exact same play. Trubisky also hit Cohen with an easy slant and then a wheel for both scores to him that really can’t be defended one on one. In his first touchdown as a Bears, Allen Robinson luckily found himself on an island with a rookie safety in the slot. While a perfectly placed pass, this setup simply won’t result in anything less than a deep reception. One touchdown came from a three-yard jet toss to Gabriel, which barely constitutes as a passing touchdown.
Trubisky, while executing the plays to perfection, only made the plays that Nagy drew up for him. Every score from him came off a successful route combination that accomplished their intended outcome. Against a sizable chunk of man coverages and plenty of lucky mishaps, Trubisky only capitalized, not manufactured the plays. And factor in the incredible time Trubisky had in the pocket to work with, not managing this degree of a feat or even just close to it would’ve been disappointing.
Though the idea of execution being the necessary component for an offensive gameplan to succeed seems foundational for an offense, this explosion feels like it tipped off a sudden air of unbridled hope surrounding Trubisky, as if the pieces ultimately snapped into place. Quarterback play might to the only separation between the Bears and a deep playoff run so naturally, a frenzic career game constitutes raving confidence in the Bears. But against up and far the worst pass defense in the league with such an excellent gameplan and offensive line performances around him, he honestly has yet to fully prove himself yet.
Trubisky’s overall play this game and every other game shouldn’t impress as much as it seems it has. He still missed often open receivers and still struggles in deep accuracy. Late in the game, he painfully underthrew Robinson for what would have been his seventh touchdown of the day. He missed Javon Wims on a routine out route. His passing mechanics still sometimes appear rushed and unconfident, as he still lacks the necessary poise for pro level pocket passing. His decision making remains rocky, a byproduct of his steadfast inexperience.
While it may be a noticeably more productive offensive season out of the Bears, that can’t be accredited to the former top pick quarterback. Nagy’s schemes finally seem to be settling in and his play calling has massively improved since an off-kilter showing against the Packers. Every score came off a predetermined play drawn up from Nagy and only did Trubisky hit Nagy’s passes. Trubisky hasn’t taken the next step from merely following the premediated gameplan.
However, this does not wish to disparage Trubisky’s historical performance. This performance ranks as one of the greatest passing showcases from a Bears quarterback, if not ever. Hopefully, this game will be a springboard for him, a confidence builder than carries over for the rest of his season and, most ideally, the rest of his career. But a lot more factored into achieving this than pure talent from a quarterback who figured the league out. Trubisky still has much to prove, so do the rest of this surprisingly elite Bears team. Nevermind the finest start since 2012, a few offensive kinks restrict their chances and we haven’t seen a statement game from the budding Bears yet.
Wins over the crashing Buccaneers, an injured and washed-up Seahawks team, and the hapless Cardinals don’t really incite great confidence yet. Without a victory over a legitimate contender yet, the Bears can’t be considered playoff frontrunners. But it all starts with Trubisky. This contest highlights the dominance the Bears could be capable of with superstar quarterback. Riding this upward trend of outstanding quarterback play will undoubtedly result in a playoff run but Trubisky has to prove he can consistently perform at a high level and in the clutch, both aspects absent from his current season.
The skills to be a Super Bowl quarterback seem to be there and might have emerged against the Buccaneers. Only the next few games will tell.
In Trubisky we trust.