Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:
Is there any way that Mitch Trubisky plays himself back into the Bears’ 2021 plans? I imagine he’d prefer one last shot at being a starter to being someone’s backup. How do the odds of that change if Matt Nagy is or isn’t retained? — @ericjen98678943
That’s a fair question and an interesting one to explore, but I don’t know that Bill Lazor is really doing anything differently with him than Matt Nagy was at the start of the season. Remember, we saw a real shift in philosophy when the season started and the Bears started operating more from under center. That gave their outside running game a bit of a boost and also put Trubisky in position to bootleg, roll out and get out of the pocket using his athleticism. They’ve returned to those same strategies since Trubisky replaced Nick Foles, and maybe, as Nagy suggests the former first-round draft pick has benefited from the whole experience. [A] new front office, and the new coach likely would want to chart a new direction at quarterback. When the season ends and the Bears assess the quarterback landscape, they have to see what’s best for them and then determine if it’s realistic.
Let’s start at this point by assuming strictly for the purposes of this post that Nagy and GM Ryan Pace are back. Without knowing anything about a new coach or how well his offensive philosophy fits Trubisky’s strengths, it’s simply impossible to say.
And Trubisky does have strengths that you can use. He’s mobile obviously. He’s also accurate when he’s comfortable, especially when he’s on the move.
What you have to determine is if Trubisky’s weaknesses are fatal.
He’s likely never going to be a pocket quarterback. We know that now. And, like most middle to bottom tier quarterbacks, you have to protect him. He’s not going to do well with a muddy pocket.
But, even more, that means he needs simplified reads where you put him on the move and cut the field in half. He’s not going to survey the whole field, get to his third read and make an accurate throw to the correct receiver.
Can you win with a quarterback like that? Yes. Can you consistently compete for a Super Bowl with one? I doubt it. And so, I suspect, does Nagy.
Adam Jahns at The Athletic puts finger on the relevant issue, albeit a little indirectly:
Nagy was asked about Trubisky’s future and he brought up Alex Smith. His winding career path going from San Francisco to Kansas City to Washington has featured plenty of wins but also some “rough patches,” he said.
As it turns out, [Nick] Foles’ failures could arguably become the best thing that’s happened to Nagy the head coach and offensive mind. It’s evident in what the Bears are running offensively, particularly with moving Trubisky’s launch points and with Lazor calling plays.
“Just with the background that I came from in Kansas City and just some of the things we did, there wasn’t as much of that,” Nagy said.
No, there wasn’t. And while Jahns thought that forcing Nagy to adjust was the best thing for him as he develops as a coach, I don’t think Nagy necessarily agrees.
Nagy was coaching in Kansas City when Smith revived his career. But he was also the offensive coordinator when they drafted Patrick Mahomes because Smith wasn’t good enough. So associating Trubisky with him tells you a lot about what might be on his mind.
I think Nagy probably is willing to compromise and run a different offense from what they ran in Kansas City. I think he’s always been willing to do it. For instance, he’s probably willing to keep the quarterback under center to facilitate David Montgomery and the running game. They did start the year off doing that after an offseason of planning, after all.
But I doubt very much that Nagy is willing to compromise to the extent that Trubisky requires. At least not indefinitely. You can’t be constantly simplifying you offense, as Nagy has for three straight years now, for a fourth year quarterback in the league. It simply limits what you can do offensively too much for sustained success against good teams.
I’d bet money that we are facing a scenario where Nagy sits down with Pace in the offseason (assuming they’re still in Chicago) and says, “Go ahead and resign Mitch if he’ll return here and you can’t find someone better for the right price. I’ll tell him he’s got an excellent chance to be the starter in September. But if you want to compete with the big boys, concentrate on drafting someone who is potentially better as soon as possible.”
It won’t be easy. But smart teams do it all the time no matter what their draft position is. And that’s what’s required here. Because, at least in Nagy’s mind, Trubisky likely will never be more than a stop gap.