How the Bears Can Salvage Mitch Trubisky Without Moving On

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Two games into the 2019 season and many Chicago Bears fans have had enough. Mitch Trubisky looks nothing like the player he was even last season. Let alone the one that was promised to them this year. The third season in the NFL. Second in the offense under Matt Nagy. He should be playing better. Instead, he’s thrown for 358 yards and no touchdowns through two games. The team remains firmly behind him, but everybody knows the situation.

This should be a Super Bowl-caliber team. They have one of the best defenses in the NFL and significantly improved special teams. It’s the offense that is the problem. Trubisky isn’t responsible for all of it. Still, he’s the quarterback. His job is to make everything go. He hasn’t done that. It has something believing that the time is approaching where the Bears need to seriously consider making a change. Serious discussions are being had about potential trade targets.

First of all, Trubisky isn’t going anywhere. He is the guy this season. There are 14 games left. The Bears have to let them play out. This isn’t the time for rash decisions. They’re 1-1 and by no means out of anything. With that said, it’s clear Trubisky isn’t developing as many had hoped. It’s led to questions about what the team can do if anything to light a fire under him to play better. Anything to avoid starting over at the position yet again.

There is one method they could try that has proven to work in the past.

Maybe Mitch Trubisky needs pushing more than coddling

There is an excellent book by author Jeff Pearlman about the old United States Football League in the mid-1980s called “Football For a Buck.” In it is a fascinating story about their Houston Gamblers franchise. Prized quarterback Jim Kelly was an obvious talent, but he wasn’t adapting to their new and radical “Run and Shoot” offense well. He didn’t buy into it. Jerry Argovitz, the team’s owner and runner of football operations came up with a plan.

It involved another quarterback by the name of Todd Dillon.

The next day the Gamblers traded with Los Angeles for the rights to Dillon, who had been a record-setting quarterback at Long Beach State. The two sides quickly agreed to terms, and Dillon came to camp and grasped the offense in a matter of hours. A furious Kelly demanded a meeting with Argovitz. “This is bullshit,” he told the owner. “You signed me to be the starter.”

“Look, Argovitz replied. “if this whole thing doesn’t work you and I are gonna be the laughingstocks of professional football. I’m gonna be the stupid schmuck who paid you $3.5 million to sit on the bench and you’re gonna be the stupid schmuck who couldn’t beat out a kid making $30,000.”

Kelly pounded the table and yelled, “No one is taking my job!”

“Well, then, you better get used to this offense,” Argovitz said, “because we’re married to it.”

A week later, a beaming Davis knocked on Argovitz’s door. “What the hell did you say to that kid?” he said. “Kelly’s unbelievable. The big kid has got it. He’s dancing, rolling, his footwork is unbelievable, his accuracy is great, the … leadership. Doc, what did you say to him?”

Argovitz smiled. “Mouse, it’s Psychology: 101,” he said. “Jim’s a competitor. He needed to feel threatened.”

One should never underestimate the impact of fear.

There is nothing a professional athlete fears more than losing his job. For the past three years, Trubisky has had no reason to feel threatened. He’s a former #2 overall pick. Mike Glennon? Chase Daniel? Tyler Bray? None of these guys can be called legitimate threats to his status as a starter in Chicago. The Bears weren’t wrong to take this approach. They wanted to make him as comfortable as possible.

However, it would appear comfort isn’t achieving the results they were hoping for. So what might happen if they turned up the heat a little bit? Maybe by signing a veteran in free agency or drafting another quarterback. Somebody who can at least be viewed as competition Trubisky can’t ignore. There is plenty of evidence throughout NFL history of established starters responding well to such situations.

Tom Brady
  • 3 years before arrival of Jimmy Garoppolo = 97.1 passer rating
  • 3 years after arrival of Jimmy Garoppolo = 103.1 passer rating
Dan Marino
  • 3 years before arrival of Scott Mitchell = 81.8 passer rating
  • 3 years after arrival of Scott Mitchell = 84.5 passer rating
Joe Montana
  • 3 years before arrival of Steve Young = 92.7 passer rating
  • 3 years after arrival of Steve Young = 100.7 passer rating
Roger Staubach
  • 3 years before arrival of Danny White = 79.5 passer rating
  • 3 years after arrival of Danny White = 84.0 passer rating

Trubisky is a competitor. There is no doubt about this. He wants to win and wants to have success. For some reason, he hasn’t been able to get himself over the hump. Not consistently anyway. The Bears have done everything they can to this point. They gave him a quality offensive system with a smart head coach. He has solid receivers and a dependable offensive line. If all that isn’t enough, then maybe it’s time to stop using the carrot and try the stick instead.