Payton Presser: Mitchell Trubisky gives me hope for the future
It was 12:15 a.m. on Friday morning and I was just getting home from covering the Bears’ first preseason game against the Broncos. With two kids having energy like my old man, my first thought was to get some sleep I will need today. But who could sleep now that football season has officially started? Instead, I put my Twitter fingers to work and composed my feelings about Mitchell Trubisky’s first NFL outing. While I was doing my WGN hits earlier in the day, Ben Bradley asked me how I felt before my first preseason game. It hit me, my first preseason game with the Titans was August 14, 2004, against the Cleveland Browns. I was very nervous, but I was just an undrafted free agent, not the second overall pick. I can only imagine how that feels. Trubisky didn’t seem phased with the moment. As I watched the game live and watching it again now at 12:45 a.m., there were a few things that stuck out to me about his game that makes me excited to watch his development. Now, let’s discuss.
Watching every single snap Trubisky took last season at UNC, I saw a guy that was very comfortable in the spread offense. At the Bears training camp, I saw a young man that has been trying to learn a pro-style offense. Running and calling plays in a pro-style offense isn’t easy. The days I was at camp, I saw flashes from him on the field. Last night, I saw a rookie that had a game plan and executed it. Trubisky completed his first 10 pass attempts. Do me a favor, please. Stop all the tweets about, “Don’t get too excited, it was against inferior talent, JP.” We all know that it’s the preseason. But don’t just focus on the competition and instead pay attention to his traits and the fundamentals of his game. I watched Trubisky lead the Bears offense on three scoring drives and finish the game 18 of 25 passing for 166 yards and a touchdown. There was something different about the guy I’ve watched in camp and the guy I saw on the field Thursday night. It seems like when the lights turn on and it’s go time, he is cool, calm, and collected. That’s a trait that you want in your franchise QB. Just ask fans of the Patriots, that team from Wisconsin, or the Saints, just to name a few. I’m not saying that Trubisky is any of those guys by any means. But I’m saying it’s those qualities that you need to BE successful in the league. The young man has more tests ahead of him. But as he gets more and more reps in this offense, he will only grow and be able to combat opposing teams’ game plans on him.
The next thing that stuck out to me was Trubisky’s footwork. Earlier this week he said, “Sometimes I go back to my college footwork just because that’s second nature.” That sound bite stuck out to me when I heard it. It really shined a light about how many little things he is working on, besides learning a whole new offense and style of offense as well. At camp, I’ve really been paying attention to his drops from under center, his 5-step and 7-step drops, to see if he is hitting his points and then if his feet are under him when he throws. Like I said earlier in the Presser, I saw glimpses. Last night, I saw him execute his footwork more times than not. The one thing to always watch is ‘happy feet’ on a young rookie QB. Trubisky also said this week, “It’s the NFL, so everything happens faster.” It’s so true and young QBs resort to bad footwork or footwork from a previous offense when things speed up. Last night wasn’t too fast for Trubisky. His footwork was just fine. He still has work to do, but he can definitely build on his footwork from last night.
I knew this before last night, but the kid can spin the ball. Trubisky’s arm was never a doubt in my mind from watching his college film. Not only can he spin, but he is very accurate on the run as well. One of the big reasons why it’s so easy is because he always keeps his eyes downfield when he rolls out or when pressure comes. His eye discipline was the biggest thing that jumped out to me reviewing his college film. The flick of the wrist is effortless for the young man. Just watch the TD pass to Victor Cruz, rolling out and getting the ball out so fast. That’s one of the biggest issues I see with Mike Glennon. Sometimes it feels like he has Velcro on his hand when he’s playing. The game of football has changed with how much there is an emphasis on quick throws. That’s the whole basis of the West Coast offense, right? The faster the ball comes off the QB’s hand, the easier it is on the offensive line. They don’t have to hold their blocks as long. Just look at the season Jay Cutler had back in 2015. He was successful largely because Adam Gase got the ball out of his hands quickly. You had to know I was going to fit Cutler in this piece somewhere.
It’s now 1:45am and I now know why I couldn’t sleep until I wrote this. At 6:48pm yesterday I replied to someone on Twitter about how it was going to be another long season to cover this team. The performance that Trubisky put on last night gave me hope. It gave me something to look forward to after last season’s 3-13 record. I needed something to be happy about and look forward to. I’m not sitting here telling you that he is the heading to Canton already. But I’m saying he has promise. Trubisky has the make-up to be special. But will he be special? That’s going to be up to how much work he puts in and how the Bears invest down the road on surrounding him with more playmakers. Our city has been starving for a franchise QB. I can only imagine the pressure he felt when Roger Goodell called his name on April 27, 2017. Thursday, the pressure didn’t seem to bother him. The only thing bothering me about Trubisky is that he chose LeBron over Jordan. He’s from Ohio. No one’s perfect, right? #Beardown
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