Two weeks ago, if you were listening to sports radio in Chicago and someone had talked about resigning Mitchell Trubisky next year, you would have thought that person was insane. Let’s be real, trading up to draft Mitchell Trubisky in a class that featured Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes is going to go down and one of the worst trades in NFL history.
Yet there is no denying that since Trubisky has won back the starter position in Chicago, there has been a marked improvement in his game. While he will never be in the same class as those other two quarterbacks, people in Chicago are starting to wonder if he might still develop into a legitimate NFL starting quarterback. The question I want to delve into is whether the resurgence of Mitchell Trubisky is real.
Trubisky Passing Stats
In his first three games, Mitchell Trubisky was averaging 187 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception per game. In his most recent four games, while he is also averaging 2 touchdowns and 1 interception per game, Trubisky is averaging 245 passing yards per game. That is a marked improvement. More impressive is his completion percentage shot up from 59.3% to 67.9%. This implies that he is making better decisions. If we were to remove the week twelve Green Bay game, his completion percentage shoots all the way up to 73.9%. For context, Drew Brees leads the NFL with a completion percentage of 70.5%. This doesn’t mean that Mitch is suddenly this amazing quarterback. It just means that during this four-game stretch, he is at least showing that he can carry out the basic requirements of an NFL quarterback.
Trubisky Advanced Passing Stats
While Trubisky’s passing stats seem like he has improved, numbers can lie. Yards and completion percentage only tell part of the story here. There are a few key categories that I think shows where both Trubisky and the Chicago Bears offense has improved. First off, before Mitch was benched, he was completing 38.4% of his passes for first downs. In his last four games, that number has gone up to 45.5%. Trubisky is throwing for a first down and extra 4 passes per game.
One place where Mitch’s advanced passing stats have gone down is his Intended Air Yards and his Completed Air Yards. The difference that stood out to me the most was Trubisky’s Intended Air Yards per Pass Attempt. At the start of the season, Mitch averaged 10.0 IAY/PA. In the last four weeks, that number dropped all the way down to 6.86 IAY/PA. That seems to indicate that Trubisky isn’t just chucking it willy nilly.
Trubisky’s Air Yards
Conversely, before he was benched, Trubisky’s receivers were averaging 4.0 Yards After Catch per Completion. On his second stint as the Bears starting quarterback, that number has shot up to 5.9 YAC/Comp. Looking at those numbers through the lens of his improved completion percentage, and it looks like Trubisky’s ball placement has improved significantly.
I think the improvement in Mitchell Trubisky’s game is most significantly reflected in his percentage of bad passes. 24.4% of Trubisky’s passes were considered bad throws before he was benched. In his last four games, Mitch has brought that number down to 15.7%, which puts him right in the Jared Goff range. Serviceable, but not very exciting. If we ignore the Green Bay game, that number goes down all the way to 12.5. This would put him among the league leaders in the NFL.
My goal in doing this write up was to see if the numbers could match what my eyes are telling me. Is what I’m watching in Mitchell Trubisky real? And I think it is. It is easy to dismiss what Trubisky has been doing the past few weeks based on the quality of his opponents. However, in his first three weeks, Trubisky played the Lions, Giants, and Falcons. Two of those teams have since fired their head coaches, so it isn’t like Trubisky was facing touch opponents, to begin with.
While Trubisky is not throwing the ball as far per pass, the improvements on Yards After Catch show that his ball placement is improved and that he is putting his receivers in a better position to succeed. We are seeing a young quarterback, while still making the occasional mistake, not forcing throws and taking check downs. Mitch will never be an elite quarterback. However, can continue to build on this success. He could place himself in a position to be a starting NFL quarterback for the next decade if he figures it out. However, it is important to remember that it will take more than a good three-game stretch to convince fans that he has finally figured things out.