Mitchell Trubisky Is Holding Back the Bears, and Chicago Needs to Move on

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistOctober 21, 2019

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 20: Mitchell Trubisky #10 of the Chicago Bears on the field after being hurried by the New Orleans Saints during the second half at Soldier Field on October 20, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. The New Orleans Saints defeated the Chicago Bears 36-25. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
David Banks/Getty Images

It was worse than it sounds. 

The Chicago Bears were defeated 36-25 by the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, but Chicago was outplayed by a substantially larger margin than that score indicates. 

At home following a bye week, against a team that was without its Hall of Fame quarterback and superstar running back, Chicago was overwhelmed and humiliated by New Orleans. And while that doesn't all fall on Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, the third-year signal-caller again showed that he doesn't have what it takes to lead this franchise. 

Trubisky was utterly outplayed Sunday by Saints backup Teddy Bridgewater, and now it's apparent the Bears have a quarterback problem. 

Two years after they traded up to select Trubisky with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft, the Bears ought to search for a new quarterback this offseason.

Trubisky's 5.5 yards per attempt ranked 32nd among 33 qualified passers entering Week 7, and that mark is now 5.2 after he compiled just 251 yards on 54 attempts against the Saints.

But even those numbers are inflated by garbage time. 

Chicago trailed 36-10 with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. At that point, the Bears had just 120 yards of total offense and Trubisky was just 20-of-35 for 119 yards. Despite a big deficit for much of that 55-minute stretch, he attempted just three passes that traveled 15 yards or more, and all three were incomplete.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 20: Mitchell Trubisky #10 of the Chicago Bears is brought down by Demario Davis #56 of the New Orleans Saints during the second half at Soldier Field on October 20, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Imag
Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

The North Carolina product is plainly one of the worst downfield passers in the NFL, and it's obvious the Bears are well aware. At this point, it's as though they're resigned to the notion that they'll win with stout defense. And when that defense isn't stout, they're toast. 

Trubisky was also useless when under any sort of pressure from the New Orleans defense, but that shouldn't have been surprising, either. He was wildly inaccurate under duress throughout what some believe to be a breakout sophomore season, and he was no better under those conditions during the first three games of Chicago's season before missing one game and most of another with a shoulder injury. 

The sample is no longer small. Trubisky has started 31 games in Chicago. He's 25 years old. His limitations are glaring, and it's becoming clear that he has a ceiling as a game-manager-type quarterback. 

That's undoubtedly tough for the Bears and their fans to swallow. Trubisky cost the team a first-round pick, two third-round selections and a fourth-rounder. He was drafted eight spots ahead of 2018 MVP Patrick Mahomes and 10 spots prior to Houston Texans franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson. 

But that's a sunk cost, and there's nothing the Bears can do to reverse the bad decision they made in April 2017.

The best approach now would be to cut their losses and become proactive about finding the right quarterback. They have to act fast and decisively, because this isn't a rebuild. The championship window is open right now for a talented team that should remain competitive thanks to players like Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Eddie Jackson and Danny Trevathan on defense and Allen Robinson and Tarik Cohen on offense. 

They don't necessarily need to release Trubisky, who is due to make a fully guaranteed $9.2 million in the final year of his rookie contract. But the plan has to be to transition him into a backup role in 2020 or trade him if a decent offer is on the table. 

Unfortunately, the Bears have just two picks in the first three rounds of next year's draft, but they should be willing to trade those two second-round selections and even follow the Los Angeles Rams model by trading another future first-rounder to add a quarterback with more potential. 

That could mean selling the farm for Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert, it could mean drafting several signal-callers outside of Round 1 in hopes of landing the next Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins or Dak Prescott, or it could mean trading for an accomplished veteran like Nick Foles (if the Jacksonville Jaguars opt to roll with Gardner Minshew II), Ben Roethlisberger (if the Pittsburgh Steelers go in a new direction under center) or Cam Newton (if the Carolina Panthers think they're better off with Kyle Allen). 

Bridgewater could also hit the open market again, and his 5-0 record this year in place of the injured Drew Brees could make him a strong candidate for a starting job in 2020. He's now won 22 of 34 career starts and is just a year older than Trubisky. 

It's not impossible for Trubisky to salvage his career and save his job. His injured shoulder probably made things worse Sunday, and he could suddenly become a star as he continues to recover between now and the end of the 2019 season. The Bears remain a playoff-caliber team despite Sunday's disaster, and all it would take is one heroic January for Trubisky to change his fortune. Just look at Joe Flacco in 2012. 

But Flacco's aberrational 2012 playoff run with the Baltimore Ravens caused Baltimore to make a tremendous mistake by signing him to an expensive long-term deal. The Ravens won just one playoff game in the ensuing six seasons, but they couldn't do anything about the mediocre Flacco because his contract was an albatross. 

So there's room for this to become messy, but chances are, it'll be uncomplicated. That's up to the Bears. Trubisky isn't a special player, and the team has to admit that. It can't afford to be in denial about its mistake, because a stubborn approach to the quarterback position in the coming months could leave the organization in football purgatory for years to come. 

      

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL for Bleacher Report since 2012.

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