Two More Hills for Mitchell Trubisky to Climb Against Giants
If Mitchell Trubisky truly has turned a corner, he has two old problems he needs to get beyond this week against the New York Giants.
If he does, then maybe it will appear he has advanced beyond a difficult part of his development.
The first is his problem with beating zone coverages and the second one is his inability to string together consecutive strong games.
In the past, Trubisky has had this knack for playing poorly the week after a big effort. And it was Trubisky himself who suggested after the win over Detroit that he's better against man-to-man coverage.
"I think they were doing a good job mixing up, especially in the first half," Trubisky said. "Then when it got down to the wire–they're going to paly with what they trust most and that was man-(coverage) for them, and we knew that. So it was all about winning our one-on-one matchups."
Like the New England Patriots defense they are based on, the Lions prefer man and had to do what wasn't natural in playing zone. Even though they aren't particularly good at it, they gave Trubisky fits in the first half when he had a passer rating of 58xxx.
"The O-line did a great job winning their one-on-one matchups up front, giving me time and playmakers made plays down the stretch, but I also think they did a great job of mixing in zone in the first half, doing a couple of confusing looks, but you’re always going to have that in the first game," Trubisky said.
That was last week, the issue this week is the Giants used to be a team leaning heavily on man-to-man, but now they've switched it under new coach Joe Judge. The Bears have to be ready for this.
"I feel like we're a team that plays better against man, and they challenge us with a lot of zone," running back Tarik Cohen said. "The scheme that we're putting in this week and the confidence we have in each other to do the right things and be in the right spots and for everybody to make their own plays and just do their job, it's nothing we can't overcome.
"We're really up for the challenge."
The consistency problem has dogged Trubisky throughout his three-plus seasons. He has strung together back-to-back games with passer ratings in the 100s only four times, and only once has he done it while winning both games. This happened last year in wins over Detroit on Thanksgiving (118.1) and then over Dallas (115.5) at Soldier Field.
The way the Bears hope to avoid drastic changes in Trubisky's fortunes is through consistency of preparation.
"One, you develop a great weekly schedule and procedure—this is what I do every week; this is what I do Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday," offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said. "Here's a list of all the things I need to study about this team; check off first and second down, check off third down, check off short yardage.
"At the end of the week, if you can go to that list, right, you've developed a disciplined procedure, a routine for the week. And you can look at the list and you've checked them all off, then you can have confidence that I'm prepared the way I'm supposed to prepare."
Lazor believes in solutions through repetition. It's a common theme with all the Bears coaches.
"It's probably a boring answer, but the reality is I just believe you go one play at a time, one game at a time," Lazor said. "All we're trying to do this week is go 1-0.
"I can tell you how I like them to approach it, how I personally approach it, and then that's what we're working to do. If we're not doing it that way, hopefully, I'll figure that out pretty quick and get it corrected that way. But that's the best way. Again, it's a boring answer."
Success might not be breathtaking all the time, and it would probably be better if it didn't occur with the peaks and valleys of last week's Lions game.
But success is never boring.