Putting Chase-or-Mitch thoughts on hold for a day …
The last time the Bears had a true top-10 quarterback was … was … not Jay Cutler, obviously … maybe Josh McCown for a brief 2013 spurt before Cutler was ordered reinstated as starter?
Well, they have one now in Mitchell Trubisky, who ranks 10th among NFL passers based on the league’s numbers-based composite rankings for attempts, completions, yards, touchdowns, average gain, touchdown percentage, interceptions, interception percentage.
Using another popular matrix that fold in different situational elements, Trubisky is No. 3 in total quarterback rating (QBR), trailing only Drew Brees and Patrick Mahomes. He’s a small tick ahead of Jared Goff.
More important, only three teams (Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans, Kansas City) have won more games than his team.
In a quarterback-defined NFL, however, this is more than simply an oh-isn’t-that-interesting exercise, both qualitatively and quantitatively.
Qualitatively, because for all of the leadership, temperament or personality elements that teammates on both sides of the football have extolled, players ultimately follow leaders who deliver. Believing in someone is good; that someone produces and wins takes matters to another level.
“I think that he’s really coming into his own,” defensive lineman Akiem Hicks said.
With the exceptions of Atlanta’s Matt Ryan and Jameis Winston in Tampa Bay, whose defenses are 32nd and 19th in points allowed, every other member of the QBR top 10 has his team with not only a winning record, but also either leading or second in their division. Using just the stat-based top 10, same thing; Russell Wilson and Carson Wentz move into the top 10, both playing for the No. 2 teams in their respective divisions.
Obviously, figures don’t lie and liars figure, and there are “lies, damn lies and statistics,” so making correlations and causal conclusions is easy. Too easy.
But Trubisky’s QBR was 29th last year, in the bottom-feeder company of the likes of Trevor Siemian, DeShone Kizer, Jacoby Brissett and Cutler, not coincidentally all quarterbacking teams to no more than six wins, equally un-coincidentally all relegated to spectator status this season.
Wilson, Brees, Wentz, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger — those were the standards. Are the standards.
By any measure, and with far, far to go, Trubisky has played his way at least into the “hey, what about …” fringes of that top-quarterback conversation. The Bears were 5-11 last year with a top-10 defense, albeit an interception-lite one and effective run game; they are 8-3 this year with a top defense but little run game. The difference is the quarterback, who’s earned the trust of coaches with respect to play-calling, and of teammates, which is what was too often lacking in past quarterbacks.
“It’s one thing to talk about it,” Trubisky said, “but if you’re consistently doing it on a daily basis, then you really earn their trust and trust is another huge thing for me.”