Why Mitchell Trubisky Wins in a QB Battle with Andy Dalton
Since the Chicago Bears signed Bill Lazor as offensive coordinator, speculation has gradually built about Andy Dalton coming to town as Mitchell Trubisky's competitor for the starting quarterback job.
Trubisky's numerous detractors savor the thought of seeing him lose the starting battle to Dalton, who played in Lazor's offense with the Bengals.
In Dalton's case, they might be putting their proverbial carts before their horses -- way before the horses.
First, Dalton isn't even a free agent. It seems a formality he'll be cut, because all but the $17.7 million he's due this year is non-guaranteed salary. If he's going to stay there to take backup money, there's every possibility Cincinnati offers something better than the Bears to keep him around as a bridge to Joe Burrow.
If Dalton gets released, he wouldn't be coming to Chicago as the starter, and there would be no certainty he could ever beat Trubisky out in an even battle anyway
While Dalton is on the downside of his career, Bears brass thinks of Trubisky as an ascending player who still is developing. This does carry weight.
"I think we're still watching a guy grow," Bears GM Ryan Pace said of Trubisky. "He knows he needs to be more consistent. He knows he needs to play better. We know that, too.
"It's not all one person. I know everybody wants to make one person the villain. It's not all just one person's fault. There's a number of factors in play here we got to sort through."
Dalton's Numbers Are Not Better
In many ways Trubisky has had a better start to his career than Dalton had to his. And last year Dalton's decline became obvious in a 2-11 Bengals season.
Dalton's career pass rating for his first three seasons was slightly worse than Trubisky's at 85.7 to 85.8. Trubisky has a better career completion percentage, at 63.4 compared to Dalton (62.0) and to Dalton's first three seasons (60.9).
Dalton is coming off a year when he achieved the worst passer rating (78.3) and worst yards per pass attempt (6.6) of his career.
While it's true Trubisky didn't exactly pay off on those MVP tickets everyone rushed out to Vegas to buy, he still had a better season last year than Dalton in several important ways. He had an 83.0 passer rating to top Dalton.
It's undeniable Dalton has been better at getting the ball downfield better than Trubisky over the course of his career, with a decent 7.1-yard career average per attempt to Trubisky's 6.7. Yet, Dalton's better years doing this in the past. His average
But there's another critical statistic where Dalton comes up sadly short of Trubisky. It's one a team with a good defense like the Bears have does not want to see.
Dalton has always been an interception waiting to happen. His career interception rating is 2.7 and it was 3.2% when he'd been in the league the same amount of time as Trubisky, whose career pick percentage is 2.3. Trubisky is coming off his best season in this regard, at 1.9%.
Trubisky Fits Offense
The surrounding cast plays a big part in a quarterback's situation, as do other offensive circumstances.
Trubisky will have the advantage of two full seasons in the offense and Dalton will have none. Sure, he played under Lazor, but that was in a different offense.
While there's no doubt the Bears had an overwhelming edge on defense helping Trubisky the last three years, Dalton had far more offensive talent on his side through the course of his career and achieved little. He had a lot of that talent early in his career with a very strong Bengals defense backing him and made the playoffs four times, losing every single playoff game.
A.J. Green, Brandon LaFell, Mohamed Sanu, Germaine Gresham, Tyler Eifert and Marvin Jones are some of the receivers Dalton got to throw to, and running back Joe Mixon is the kind of versatile back Bears coach Matt Nagy wouldn't have minded having in 2018.
Trubisky is a far better fit for what the Bears are trying to do, with an ability to run the ball in zone-read situations.
Dalton had less than two seasons of RPO experience under Lazor with the Bengals, but no one is buying him as a potential runner in a zone read. He had less than 100 yards in both the seasons he ran this style attack. When Trubisky had a down year running it with a career-low 191 yards in 2019, it was twice what Dalton produced running in each year under Lazor.
Bears personnel favors Trubisky as well. Being mobile, he can get out of the pocket and run when Charles Leno Jr. has a pass rusher blow past. Dalton isn't quite Frankenstein material like Mike Glennon, but is fairly well rooted and an easy target.
The Bears would be handing the ball over to a quarterback who led his team to losing records the last four seasons. Trubisky's only losing season came in the John Fox era.
If the goal is to simply bring in someone more experienced than Chase Daniel to back up Trubisky, Dalton qualifies. A veteran quarterback with experience on his side who wouldn't be overwhelmed when playing for an extended period is definitely a role within Dalton's capability and skill set.
Being the dynamic starter who will come into camp and blow away Trubisky is not something he's going to accomplish at this point in time.
The bigger question about Dalton is whether he'd take the kind of backup money the Bears would be willing to spend.