After an offseason of aggressive reloading for the offensive toolbox, expectations soared for sophomore quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky. An explosive number one target in Allen Robinson II, some shiny pass catchers in Taylor Gabriel topped off with the consistent hands of Trey Burton all came aboard to form a formidable supporting cast, resembling an elite crop of weapons on paper. Despite these vast improvements to the offense, it appeared as if he had begun this season slightly rocky, not the world-beating breakout we had believed.
His comfort throwing errant deep balls stifled a good decent amount of drives for the Bears, made more unpleasant by his concerning inaccuracy when throwing beyond twenty yards. Even with the lack of success, he still remains as among the most aggressive passing in the league. While fearlessness may be a vital trait of a star quarterback, his even more concerning flaw of being so flustered in the pocket hindered the offense more than his duds. With one of the league’s strongest offensive lines blocking for him, he doesn’t have the pressure of the pass rush to blame.
His legs may be top in the league for a quarterback but the decision making for the talent hadn’t formed. Often times, he would dash out of the pocket for the sake of getting a couple of yards rather than buying himself some more time. His 4.6 speed should be encouraging for the scampers but in Trubisky’s case, he never utilized his legs to keep plays alive, always to acceptingly steal a couple of yards and attempt uncorking a massive run that his speed would allow. But against an equally speedy defense, he wouldn’t have anywhere to go. His youth still bubbled over and the poor decision making along with his discomfort looked signature of a raw quarterback still getting his feet wet in the league.
But no longer. While Tampa may have been the spark on the dynamite, Detroit could be called the shockwave, certifying his breakout. Trubisky’s fantastic play against the rival Lions exhibits every drop of hypothetical talent he had and though, along with the rest of the team, grew little sloppy in the second half, still displayed every criticism solved with his play.
First off, we witnessed Trubisky finally delivering pristine and intelligent passes into tough spots. The intentionally underthrown touchdown dime to Robinson at the outskirts of the end zone couldn’t have been placed better and even some that didn’t end up as a reception still couldn’t be pinned to Trubisky. Tossing into a tiny dot with a Taylor Gabriel fly into the end zone placed right into his hands highlights Trubisky’s eye-poppingly improved ball placement.
He even finally showed his pocket passing last seen in college and could blast tight spirals to slant and stop routes, no matter how small of a window. As the primary play-caller, the recognition of the opportunity already shows a quarterback comfortable with the pace of the game but the delivery seemed to be missing from Trubisky. And while against a gutted Lions secondary playing without their top corner does spell a slightly creeping doubt, he still made some very impressive plays that can’t be discounted, especially considering the upward trend seen in the previous few weeks.
But, easily the most invigorating part of this performance, he ultimately took command of the offense and exhibited the ability to be a field general capable of running an efficient offense. Sounding audibles, making reads, calling plays, his sudden control of the offense indicates his comfort level in the pocket and that is so relieving after his early season struggles. With the Bears already flaunting the league’s pluckiest defense, leading the league in turnovers and points off turnovers, a dynamic offense helmed by an effective passing game will almost be too much to handle, an idea that incites rampant hope for the playoffs if this level of play can hold come postseason.
Really, this upcoming contest against the Vikings can and will be the statement game that has been in line for the Bears for weeks now. And in order to sink the half on the NFC North, Trubisky just needs to sustain his obvious advances. As the Bears continue to pull away from the NFC North race, they look more and more uncatchable. Detroit clearly tapped out during the trade deadline after trading away Golden Tate, while Green Bay barely squeaked out against an inferior, early season Bears team. Minnesota lacks the defensive bite and the quarterback play to keep up with the undeniably more talented Bears. Sights should not be set on the NFC North anymore-they should be on playing deep into January.
Realistically speaking, the Bears are an easy pick, a field goal, and a single yard from being completely undefeated. While bad luck haunts every franchise and can’t be dismissed entirely, the fact this Bears team has yet to lose by more than seven points and has only eleven points separating them from total perfection is scary. The intensity of this turnaround and the still budding youth on this roster has to incite some degree of Super Bowl hopes in the coming years. With only the slumping Rams as a legitimate hurdle for the rest of this season, a 13-3 record can’t be seen as an improbability but the expectation.
Tagging a top three defense with a top five scoring offense should spell Super Bowl contender and only pure inexperience could hold the Bears from making serious noise in the playoffs. These admittedly idealistic dreams feel lofty for a team in the gutter a season ago but since the pieces have flowered so brilliantly and intensified by Trubisky’s sudden emergence, the naive hope stems directly from his play. He is currently tenth in the league in QBR, his efficiency and decision making has only gotten better since the season begun. Mix in the obviously dominant defense and the Bears could have something really special brewing. The first playoff appearance since 2010 should be a guarantee. Even more than that should be expected.