Mark Schofield analyzes two plays from Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubsiky’s portfolio of work and illustrates why Trubisky is making progress with his accuracy.
Who will be Top Gun of the 2017 quarterback class? That was last year’s burning question with four dramatically different choices: DeShone Kizer, Patrick Mahomes, Mitchell Trubisky, and Deshaun Watson. Watching scouts and evaluators across the football landscape state their case for each added intrigue to the process.
My arguments on behalf of Watson are well-documented in this space, and to a lesser extent, my reasons for caution regarding Trubisky are evident as well. I struggled with Trubisky’s ball placement and lower-body mechanics. The position of his left hip and left leg impeded his accuracy.
Here’s a throw against Stanford that illustrates the point. Trubisky tries to throw a deep crossing route to a receiver who starts on the left side of the formation and crosses over the middle behind the second level of the defense. Trubisky has all day to throw this deep crossing route, but misses it, leading his receiver too far. Trubisky steps in the bucket, in relation to his target. He fails to get his left foot pointed to the route and steps toward the middle of the field, while his receiver is between the hash mark and the numbers.
The replay angle is perhaps the best view of this, as you can see everything working toward the middle of the field, from Trubisky’s eyes to his shoulder and chest, but at the last moment the throw comes off awkwardly toward the boundary.
Trubisky’s college tape was filled with moments like this.
Trubisky endured an up-and-down rookie season, and his Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt of 5.05 (which placed him just behind Eli Manning and just ahead of Jay Cutler) is evidence of his struggles. Watching him on film also highlighted some areas of concern, particularly his play and processing speed – or lack thereof. All rookie quarterbacks struggle to adjust to the speed of the NFL game, and Trubisky was surely no exception to that rule.
While the issue of his lower body mechanics lingered into his rookie season, there were certainly moments of progress. Take, for example, this throw against the Cincinnati Bengals:
This throw comes from Week 14, and the Bears face a 4th and 3 in Bengals’ territory late in the first half of a one-score game. Trubisky throws a deep crossing route working left to right, almost identical to the previous throw against Stanford. The placement is slightly better, the anticipation is slightly better and the mechanics – while not perfect – are slightly better as well. Trubisky’s left, lead foot is closer in line to his intended target, and while not perfect, the improvement is evident on this throw with respect to his lower body mechanics.
Trubisky, like many second-year quarterbacks, remains a work in progress. But development is never linear and even minimal growth and development is preferable to regression. The subtle refinement in Trubisky as a passer – as seen on these two similar throws – is a positive sign for his future growth as a quarterback.
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