The new NFL season started the same way that the old one ended, with sloppy NFL Offense’s being dominated by superior defensive play. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense had to deal with the vaunted Chicago Bears defense, and on the road, any mortal would be expected to struggle with such a challenge. On the Other side, however, Mitch Trubisky and the Bears however were overwhelmed by a much less acclaimed defensive unit.
So why did the struggle so greatly? Was this the Scheme? Coaching? The Quarterback?
Well lets ask the Packers defenders
Full Tramon Williams quote on Mitch Trubisky:— Matt Schneidman (@mattschneidman) September 6, 2019
"We wanted to make Mitch play quarterback. We knew they had a lot of weapons, we knew they were dangerous, we knew all of those things. But we knew if we could make Mitch play quarterback, that we’d have a chance."
Reading this late last night, it inspired me to take a deeper look. To figure out what Williams really meant, because Trubisky was starting the game at QB regardless of the defense, I decided go back and check the tape.
Tale of the Tape
In order to understand the Williams quote, you have to understand how the Bears’ offense works, so we’ll start there. According to my own film study Matt Nagy’s offense, going back to last season, features heavy use of motion, misdirection, versatile skill players playing in different positions (such as Tarik Cohen and David Montgomery playing in the slot). The general purpose is to isolate favorable matchups and give Mitch easy, open reads to throw the ball into.
So what does this have to do with the Williams’ quote?
Once you understand the offense, it becomes easier to figure out the above question. In offenses such as the one’s that Chicago and the Rams use, the Quarterback is not asked to go through multiple reads the way they often do in a pro-style system. As such, there is a perception that the Quarterbacks in these systems can’t or struggle going through their reads.
The Packers defense shut down the run, didn’t bite on misdirection and forced Trubisky to drop back and make decisions, as most NFL QB’s have to. It obviously worked in terms of winning and losing but how did Trubisky play?
This was a tale of two halves. Except that neither was very good. The first half was very much a typical Nagy- Trubisky passing attack. I watched each of his passes and there was not a single 1st half drop back that I could definitively see him look at a 2nd read. Trubisky did throw pretty accurately (mostly) but the Packers didn’t allow Nagy to scheme receivers open for his QB, and that ended with Trubisky throwing into great coverage the entire first half, not using a check-down, and running if there was no 2nd read.
The 2nd half saw Trubisky making multiple reads in an offense that looked simpler for the most part. Unfortunately, the result was often slow reads, late passes and bad decisions. There were also many occasions that the Pro-Bowler fell back into old habits, locked on this first read, and launched balls into coverage. The secondary issue with this, specifically on the redzone interception, is that Trubisky tend to let his eyes lock on, and in this case the safety knew where the ball was going long before it was thrown.
It seems the NFL may have figured out Nagy’s offense. It also seems that Trubisky isn’t ready to run a traditional offense. So, What now? There is good news, there are loads of playmakers in Chicago. There is more speed than anywhere except maybe Philadelphia, and Kansas City. I believe it’s time to at least in part move to a more NFL style offense, but one that stretches the field like in Kansas City, with it’s speed. It’s also time to run the ball more, Montgomery, Cohen and Davis ran the ball a grand total of zero times in the second half. That has to change. Mix in those trick plays, just stop using a trick offense.
Mitch will struggle in this offense, but it’s time to evaluate him for what he is. Can he learn to read defenses? The Bears have to find out, or every team will go out and “make him play Quarterback” every….single….week.