Check-Up on Mitchell Trubisky: Underappreciated or Rightfully Sidelined?

Welcome to the League
  It’s April 27, 2017 – NFL Draft Night in America. After a more than lackluster season the Chicago Bears make what seems like a drastic move, trading their third overall pick and three other picks to the San Francisco 49ers to move up a spot in the draft and secure the second overall pick. Mitchell Trubisky is the new quarterback of the Chicago Bears. Their fateful decision is met with confusion, boos and jeering from their hometown crowd, along with surprise from analysts and commentators. It’s an unexpected move given head coach John Fox (later fired after Trubisky’s first season) thought the organization would be getting safety Jamal Adams. Alongside this, many in the Bears organization didn’t have Trubisky ranked above other candidates like current superstar Patrick Mahomes and the now controversial Deshaun Watson. In fact, Watson was high on the list of possible picks for the Bears. General Manager Ryan Prace’s thinking behind this surprise decision is a whole other story, because now Trubisky has moved on after being benched (as has Pace, who got fired). 

A Rocky Tenure
  It is not necessarily fair to call Trubisky bad, as the main concern towards his play is that he was very inconsistent. The highs in his career were terrific, including a six touchdown game versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018. However, the lows were hard to watch, pockmarked with inaccurate passes, interceptions and a tendency to hold onto the ball too long in bad situations. Eventually in 2020, even after opening the season with two wins for the Bears, he was benched midway through game three after an interception. The move drew Head Coach Matt Nagy criticisms and critics likened the decision to that of Nagy having a temper tantrum. However, the decision was certainly influenced by Trubisky’s less than subpar performance during the second half of their previous game. Following the 2020 season Trubisky left the Bears and signed on as the backup QB to the Buffalo Bills during 2021. 

  For the sake of including the whole story, it must be mentioned that Trubisky was not the only one with a rocky tenure during this time. Both GM Ryan Pace and HC Matt Nagy were let go just a year after Trubisky left. Fans and the team owners were growing upset with Pace’s not-so-beneficial personnel decisions, and Nagy’s inability to take responsibility for some of the Bears downfalls was telling. Nagy was very adamant on using a specific style of playing, which sometimes seemed to clash with the ability of the players. For example, Trubisky had the capabilities to be a solid mobile quarterback by all appearances. He was strong on his feet and a good runner – yet Nagy insisted he focus on a more grounded playstyle and staying in the pocket. Furthermore, a report from The Atlantic earlier this year detailed reports of Nagy calling Trubisky “uncoachable” in front of the whole team, refusing to show up to a scheduled meeting with Trubisky on how get the offense back on track (Trubisky reportedly showed up with pages of notes and was ready for an in-depth discussion) and ignoring Trubisky’s concerns with the offensive game plan on multiple occasions. Alongside all of this, Trubisky has given a few yet vague comments on his time with the Bears, hinting that the system in Buffalo was much different and provided more freedom. Throughout all of this, his story isn’t finished yet. He has been offered the chance for a new beginning – and appears to be capitalizing on it. 

A Starting Quarterback Once More?
  Taking an exit from Buffalo, Trubisky has signed a two year contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Before driving into more recent events, it should be mentioned that the QB did get brief playing time with Buffalo, even netting himself a rushing touchdown. Alongside this, while it was only a preseason game, Trubisky got to show off  against his former team as he led the Bills to a 41 – 15 victory where he outplayed both his “replacement” quarterbacks Andy Dalton and Justin Fields.

So where is he now? Currently he is lighting up the official Steelers Training Camp and seems to be a shoe-in for the starting position. His competition resides in longtime Steelers fill-in Mason Rudolph and the new fan favorite draft pick Kenney Pickett. While news reports shared that Trubisky had a rough start, the tune has changed, as he is ranked #1 on the Steelers first unofficial depth chart for their quarterbacks. Furthermore, ProFootballTalk’s report that Trubisky has gotten all of the first team reps at practice was followed by NBC’s Peter King’s statement that the starting job is “his to lose.” Bears fans, Steelers fans, and critics alike can now only wait with increasing anticipation to see how Trubisky does. A rough start will only solidify the prevailing thoughts on the quarterback, relegating him to the status of a solid backup. On the other hand, a good start and strong tenure on the Steelers could mean everything for the young man. His career would be revitalized, Steelers fans would have a new quarterback and a substantial number of Bears fans would be smiling for the humble quarterback, wishing him the very best in the aftermath of Chicago’s coaching and management debacles.
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