Mitch Trubisky had a very uneven performance against the Patriots on Sunday. On the one hand, he made some great plays with his legs – game changing plays. 81 yards and a touchdown on 6 carries is nothing to dismiss. As a passer, on the other hand, there were some troubling aspects to his performance.
There were two concerning traits to Trubisky’s game that clearly stood out on film. The first was that he seemed to lock onto his receivers. Trubisky was too slow in moving through his progressions. The main problem here, which most people tend to focus on, is that staying on one receiver too long allows the defense more time to react and make a play on the ball. The other problem with locking onto receivers is that it leads to some big plays being left on the field. On Sunday, there were too many.
One particular play really stood out. You can see the route combination illustrated below.
The thought behind this concept is that the outside two receivers can clear out the defense for the #3 inside receiver running to the outside. That receiver here was Taylor Gabriel. He would end up breaking wide-open on this play.
Trubisky should have been able to get to him with relative ease and pick up an easy 15-20 yards. Instead, he stayed on his deep routes a few beats too long. Those routes would be taken away by the coverage, as illustrated below.
There is no problem with peaking to see if those deep routes might be there. But based on the way the secondary was playing, those two receivers (Josh Bellamy and Kevin White) were not open. And it was evident relatively soon after the snap. You can see the play in full below.
That’s a throw Trubisky has to get to. He had the protection and the time to do so.
In addition to being too slow moving through his progressions, Trubisky left some plays on the field with poor ball placement. On the below play, he had his running back, Tarik Cohen, down the right sideline with a step on his man. Trubisky badly underthrew the pass.
It looked like he was attempting a back-shoulder throw. Remember, ball placement isn’t quite the same thing as accuracy. Accuracy is a component, but ball placement is about putting the ball in the right place relative to the defense. Trubisky misread the relationship between Cohen and his defender and made the wrong type of throw to beat the coverage.
Later in the game, Trubisky missed yet another open receiver for what could have been a touchdown. He again badly underthrew the ball leading to an unbelievable interception by cornerback Jonathan Jones. This one was not an intended back-shoulder throw. This was just a really inaccurate pass.
These are just a few examples of the many throws Trubisky missed. It wasn’t just the incompletions and interceptions either. He completed a few passes where he didn’t give his receivers the opportunity to run after the catch. Again, there’s a difference between ball placement and accuracy.
We know Trubisky has the arm strength and the athleticism to make all plays an NFL quarterback needs to. Until he improves on the two areas mentioned above, the Bears Offense will continue to miss opportunities.