Chicago Bears fans are having a difficult time trying to understand where they should place their expectations in regards to the pairing of Mitch Trubisky and Matt Nagy. These two were put together by GM Ryan Pace for a simple reason. He wanted them to become his Sean Payton and Drew Brees. A QB-coach combo that could rack up stats and (hopefully) wins for years to come.

Nagy was a big fan of Trubisky coming out of North Carolina in 2017. It seems almost fated the two would end up together a year later. So far the results have been…inconsistent. Not really great. Not really terrible. Just a big mix of both. Trubisky has had games where he looked like an All-Pro and others where he still looked like a rookie.

People want this to succeed but thus far they haven’t been able to buy in. Not only that, they’ve been trying to find a similar situation this seems to represent. They may be surprised to find out that the trajectory is almost on the same exact line as another unlikely pairing that happened to unite exactly eight years ago. The last time the Bears made the playoffs.

Mitch Trubisky and Matt Nagy are the new Jay Cutler and Mike Martz

If ever the Bears came close to genuinely finding that QB-coach chemistry that had a Super Bowl feel, it was back in 2010. That’s when head coach Lovie Smith chose to hire his longtime friend and colleague Mike Martz to pair with erratic quarterback Jay Cutler. It was a strange combination, but an inspiring one.

Martz had a productive history at coaching up quarterbacks, unafraid of being hard on them if need be. Cutler was the sort of player who needed that kind of attention. It wasn’t immediately obvious at first, but there were signs even in the early going that the two could do good things together.

Don’t believe it? Have a look at the stat lines of both them and the Trubisky-Nagy combination lined up over their first 11 games together.

Trubisky and Nagy combination through first 11 games
  • 226 completions
  • 351 attempts
  • 2579 yards
  • 21 touchdowns
  • 12 interceptions
  • 92.05 passer rating
Cutler and Martz combination through first 11 games
  • 201 completions
  • 318 attempts
  • 2545 yards
  • 17 touchdowns
  • 10 interceptions
  • 92.82 passer rating

The parallels are actually quite amazing. Their yardages totals are separated by just 34 yards while Cutler had a passer rating less than one point better than Trubisky. Why is this so important? Namely because most agree that Martz got more out of Cutler in Chicago than anybody before or after. Not so much in terms of overall stat production but quality performances.

The two really began to click during their second season in 2011. It began early in October. After a difficult start to the season, Cutler began to find a rhythm and seemed to play better each week. Over a six-game span, he threw for eight touchdowns and just three interceptions while going 5-1 and having the offense average 30 points per game.

Sadly fans were cheated out of seeing where it might go. During the final game of that stretch, Cutler broke his thumb. Without him, the offense fell apart and Martz was, rather unfairly, fired. Still, the two offered a favorable glimpse of where Nagy and Trubisky could end up going in the near future.