To put a spin on the wise words once said, “It was all good just a year ago.”
Coming off an upsetting playoff loss (double-doink game) to the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles led by new Bears QB Nick Foles, spirits were high in Chicago for the new year. With a ferocious defense featured by the highest paid defender in the league Khalil Mack, the Bears won the division and seemed as if knocking them off the throne wouldn’t be so easy. Bears 2017 #2 draft pick QB Mitchell Trubisky in his pretty much first full season as starter looked as if his future in Chicago without a doubt was promising. With some criticism still here and there, Mitch still found a way to help lead his team to the NFC North title, while also making his first Pro Bowl appearance (albeit as a reserve, but he did actually play in the game.) Fast forward to Week 13 Sunday Night Football versus the Rams, late in the fourth quarter Bears coach Matt Nagy decided it was time to bench Trubisky later citing due to injury. Questions began circulating around Chicago that Bears management might actually be ready to move on from Trubisky. Throughout most of the season fans all across Chicago was wondering, “what happened to the team from last year?” The defense was there but let’s begin to talk about the trust issues Bears play calling head coach Nagy displayed in his second season.
To say the Bears offense was horrible last year might be an understatement. They were 29th in scoring. 29th in yards. 25th in passing yards. 27th in rushing. Ladies and gentlemen, there are 32 teams in the NFL. The Bears managed to finish in the bottom five of every major offensive category. The offensive line gave up 45 sacks which was 12 worst in the league. They got a staggering 46 catches for 416 yards from the entire tight end position. — 6 different players caught passes at the position last season. All-Pro tight end George Kittle played in 14 games and still managed to catch 85 passes for 1,053 yards making the Bears tight ends look really really bad and oh boy they were. Not only were the tight ends not producing, the receiving weren’t knocking anyones socks off whatsoever. Besides Allen Robinson, no one on the offense had more than 650 yards. Tarik Cohen who had a fantastic 2018 was pretty much an afterthought in this offense. Although he had 79 catches, they were pretty much check downs and short throws because he only turned in 456 yards on those catches. It also seems as if Nagy and the offensive coaches had trouble finding ways to get their second round draft pick out of Iowa State David Montgomery. Though he had a season that most rookies would dream about, it went by quietly because how stagnant the offense was the entire season. 889 yards on 242 attempts but just 3.7yds per carry. That goes into the problem with the offensive line. For some reason Nagy stopped allowing Trubisky to use his strengths to his advantage. In 2018 he rushed for 421 yards on 68 attempts with a couple touchdowns. The best thing about Trubisky’s scrambling was that it always seemed to come at the right time. He never panicked, he’d step up in the pocket and if the play wasn’t there he was taking off. Fast forward to 2019, Trubisky rushes for 193 yards on 48 attempts. What happened?? Did Nagy think he was helping Trubisky by changing his style in just his 3rd full season? Why take away his greatest strength? Why try to fix something that isn’t broken? Trust that’s why. Nagy never trusted Trubisky from day one.
Flashback to 2018 Week One Sunday Night Football with the oldest rivalry in sports featuring the Bears vs Packers. 8 days prior to this game, Bears GM Ryan Pace pulled off a spectacular trade for possibly the best edge rusher in the game Khalil Mack and he immediately made his presence felt within the division. By halftime, Mack had 2 sacks, one forced fumble, one interception, that he actually returned for a memorable pick-6 in his first ever game for the Bears. (Don’t forget he missed the entire training camp due to holding out and only had 5 practices before first game, astonishing right?) Bears lead 17-0 at the half. By the fourth quarter, the Bears were up 20-3 and pretty much just needed a couple of big plays from Trubisky to pull out the week one win. Early in the fourth the Bears had two three and outs which allowed GB to cut the lead to just 3. Nagy coached pretty stagnant with the offense (a problem we would continue to see in the future) and he blew his first game as Bears coach because he just did not trust his QB…. From day one. When it comes to Mitch throwing the ball down the field, Nagy just did not want to see that. Trubisky went to the check down a lot in the second half and that hurt the Bears chances. Rodgers came back from down 17 and crushed Bears fans Week One hope. Fortunately for the Bears, they ended up with a 12-4 record and Coach Nagy was rewarded Coach of the Year in just his first season. Though they lost their only playoff game, the future looked promising in Chicago.
After a subpar 8-8 season to follow the fantastic season they had the year prior, questions around Chicago was will the Bears pick up Trubisky’s fifth year option. Trubisky’s option would guarantee him approximately $24 million during the 2021 season, but it is only guaranteed for injury. In the meantime, the Bears signed another QB to compete with Trubisky for the starting job Nick Foles. With this addition, it was almost clear that the Bears would not pick up that option because they would owe Trubisky $24.8 million in 2021. “We believe in Mitch, that doesn’t change…” Pace said. This statement really baffles me because why sign another QB to compete with the QB that you “believe in?” Pace drafted Trubisky over the great Patrick Mahomes (whose already won a Super Bowl) and also Deshaun Watson who has had two playoff appearances since drafted. Pace made a mistake and I believe he has too much pride to just admit that he did. He hired Nagy the year after he drafted Trubisky and that to me tells me that Trubisky will never be the guy Nagy wants. Foles came into the league in 2012 with the Kansas City Chiefs under coach Andy Reid while Nagy was the QB coach. He helped develop Foles, and taught Foles the Andy Reid style of offense that Nagy still uses to this day. I believe Pace made sure he went and got someone who can run Nagy’s offense the way he wants and the Trubisky era is slowly coming to an end. The Chicago Bears restructured the contract of Nick Foles, giving the franchise more flexibility with the former Super Bowl MVP. Foles now has three years and $24 million remaining on his contract, with $21 million still guaranteed. He’ll make $8 million per season under his new deal. He’s also eligible to void the final two years of his contract based off performance, granting him the ability to seek more money if he has a good season in Chicago. Granting Foles this type of deal tells me that they’re either finished with Trubisky and going forward with Foles or they could be hoping to be free from a QB situation next season and can look forward to the draft or possibly trading for a better option for the future. It’ll be interesting to see how the QB competition plays in Chicago this Fall. Mitchell Trubisky’s days as starter in Chicago are numbered. As long as Matt Nagy is running the offense, trusting Trubisky will never happen.
Sports & Culture Editor for SWGRUS.