Logic and history dictate continued advancement for Mitchell Trubisky
A critical eye, doubt and skepticism dog Mitchell Trubisky as he embarks upon his second season under the direction of Bears coach Matt Nagy.
The critics are everywhere, none more so than analysts at Pro Football Focus. This group labeled Trubisky a wasted project since well back into last season.
Many models of the coming Bears season view Trubisky as faltering in Year 2, while the defense also takes a step back under new coordinator Chuck Pagano.
"We're lucky to have him," coach Matt Nagy said of Trubisky after last season. "I'm looking forward to the future. I really am. Because the city of Chicago is lucky to have that kid at quarterback."
There is no real evidence showing Nagy ever fails on a year by year basis at developing quarterbacks. In fact, this goes for all offensive coaches who came from the Andy Reid tree.
Nagy became quarterbacks coach in 2013 with the Chiefs and his project then was getting newly acquired quarterback Alex Smith up to standards.
Nagy did this in spectacular fashion. Smith's passing abilities often receive criticism, but there is no denying he became a much more efficient passer and a winning quarterback after he hooked up with Nagy.
With the 49ers, Smith had a 79.1 passer rating for seven seasons. He had only a 72.1 rating and his teams had only a 19-31 record until 2011 and 2012, when the 49ers offense began to catch up to Vic Fangio's defense in success achieved.
Then Smith came to the Chiefs and began working under coach Andy Reid, offensive coordinator Doug Pederson and Nagy, the quarterbacks coach.
Smith has been 94-66-1 as a starting quarterback from that point, including 50-26 in Kansas City. His passer rating increased every year with the Chiefs except one, and when it dipped in 2016 it was by just 4.2 points. He had a passer rating of 94.8 for five seasons in Kansas City. It dipped again when he went to the Redskins to 85.7.
Smith never threw more than eight interceptions in a season in Kansas City and with the 49ers had seasons with 16, 11 and 10 interceptions.
Contrast all of this with what Nagy has done in one season with Trubisky, and the expectation has to be a slightly better version of No. 10 in a Bears uniform in Year 2 of this offense.
His passer rating climbed from 77.5 to 95.4 in one season. With the added year of experience playing in the league, as well as playing within the same offense, unless Trubisky goes completely haywire there is no reason to expect he'll regress. He should reduce the interception total from 12 and increase his touchdown passes from 24.
Based on Nagy's past success, and barring a massive rash of injuries within the offense to blockers, receivers and running backs, there is no basis for believing Trubisky will take a step back.
In past criticism of Trubisky, PFF has basically said Trubisky should have had more interceptions last year but got lucky.
If the official hadn't called pass interference in the NFC championship game, maybe the Saints are Super Bowl champs. If Cody Parkey has .00001 percent more confidence in himself and an eighth-inch more height on his kick, maybe the Bears are in the NFC title game last year. If Rex Grossman didn't throw the interception in the Super Bowl, the Bears might have won another Lombardi Trophy. As Mike Ditka said often to the media while coaching the Bears "If ifs and buts were candies and nuts we'd all have a merry Christmas."
It all means nothing. Should have, if, and could have, are pretty shaky ground for the operation of any analytics-based website. It really kind of flies directly in the face of the operation.
It's not just Nagy's success and Trubisky driving this model of success, either. It's the entire Andy Reid coaching tree.
Carson Wentz has had passer ratings of 79.3, 101.9 and 102.2 in Philadelphia under Pederson. Of course, Patrick Mahomes' first offensive coordinator was Nagy. Last year Mahomes was spectacular for Reid in his first year starting.
Last season Andrew Luck recorded his best career passer rating under Frank Reich, who was Pederson's assistant. His 98.7 rating was 2.2 points higher than his previous best. He had 15 interceptions in the offense, and it's safe to anticipate a drastic reduction in coming seasons. It's also a reason the Colts are a good bet on a Super Bowl victory within the next three years.
All verifiable needles point up for Trubisky.
Only the murky regions of the unplanned, "what if" or "maybe" back the suggestion he falters in Year 2.