The ever-popular debate: Should a rookie quarterback start right away? Or should he sit and soak in whatever he can learn before his team deems him ready?
It’s a debate that can go either way. It’s a topic that I can see both sides of. But it’s also a situation that’s unique to a team’s given circumstance.
The Chicago Bears are afraid to ruin rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. They’ve been treating him with kid gloves since they drafted him No. 2 overall. And honestly, a part of me can’t blame them. Have you seen their track record with quarterbacks?
But that fear shouldn’t prevent Trubisky from going out there and learning — especially if he’s ready. Look, Trubisky’s never going to be fully ready before he takes a regular season snap in the NFL. That’s just how it works. It’s impossible to be ready before you have some regular-season experience in the NFL.
So, eventually, the Bears are going to have to throw him out there anyway.
So why not now?
In order to better understand the Bears’ predicament, let’s take a look at an example from last year.
Take Jared Goff, the Los Angeles Rams No. 1 overall selection in 2016. The struggling Rams sat Goff until Week 11, where he inherited a 4-6 squad that was headed nowhere, and was, unrealistically, expected to create magic from nothing. Goff would go 0-7.
It’d be fair to say Goff struggled as a rookie. But it would be as unfair to say he was the sole reason the Rams went 0-7 during his starts. Sure, Goff was the most important player on that field. That’s what happens when you’re the up-and-coming rookie quarterback. But there were elements around him that were, you could say, detrimental to his success. A shoddy offensive line. A struggling run game behind Todd Gurley. Lack of weapons in the receiving corp.
Even though Goff went 0-7 in his only NFL action, you can’t say the experience was a terrible thing in its entirety. Sure, the end result was. But 2016’s nightmare was the kind of thing Goff needed to experience to perhaps make 2017 less nightmarish. I’m sure it’ll still be somewhat of a nightmare given it’s the Rams. But, I digress.
Now, Goff’s situation is comparable to Trubisky’s, and then it isn’t.
Sure, both the Bears and Rams are heading into this season with little confidence offensively. Sure, Trubisky was the No. 2 overall selection and Goff was the No. 1 overall selection in 2016. But that’s where the similarities stop.
The Bears, should they stay healthy, have a talented defense, led by an impressive front seven, that should do more damage than most are giving them credit for. The Bears are returning the No. 2 leading rusher in Jordan Howard, who would’ve given Ezekiel Elliot a run for the No. 1 spot if Howard had seen significant action in the first three games last season. This preseason has also highlighted a special teams that has the potential to be competent and maybe even playmaking at times.
But the Bears also signed a veteran quarterback that hasn’t started in over two years, who doesn’t possess the athletic prowess and potential of a Trubisky. The Bears’ offensive line is questionable as Kyle Long remains sidelined. Then you have their receiving corp., which is about as thin as we’ve ever seen it in Chicago in recent memory.
Do we really want to throw Trubisky into the fire immediately?
There’s this whole question of: Is Trubisky ready to start in the NFL? Certainly the gravity of that question is hyped given the Bears’ first four games of the season, which includes powerhouse teams like the Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Pittsburgh Steelers, and the hated Green Bay Packers. Not exactly the kind of fire you want to throw your shiny new rookie into at the start of his seemingly bright career.
But Trubisky feels ready for whatever comes next — whether that requires him to sit this season or to be thrust into the starting role.
“Whatever the team needs me to do, I’ll be ready to do it,” Trubisky said after his final preseason action. “I know what I need to do.”
There’s a lot being made of Trubisky’s lack of collegiate experience, and rightfully so. He only saw 13 starts in his career at North Carolina, where he spent the majority of his time as a backup. But since the Bears drafted him in April, Trubisky has grown exponentially. It’s hard to believe that this is the same guy that didn’t know how to take snaps from under center or didn’t know what a hard count was – especially considering he drew two offsides penalties from the Browns in that final exhibition game executing it perfectly.
“I think I’m continuing to figure that out more and more as reps get cut down,” Trubisky said. “What you need to do on a weekly basis to be mentally prepared and have your body physically prepared to be 110 percent on game day – I have a pretty good idea of what needs to be done on a weekly basis as far as studying film and body preparation and all of that. I’ll be ready to roll.”
You heard him, Bears. He’ll be ready to roll whenever you need him. Which, in this case, continues to look like it’ll be sooner rather than later.
Let’s take a look at why Trubisky should start Week 1, and why maybe he should sit for a bit.
START HIM WEEK 1!
When it comes to football, the best players need to be on the field. It’s something that not only the fans recognize but the locker room, as well. Trubisky clearly is the most talented quarterback on this Bears roster. The preseason showcased Trubisky’s potential, which includes his accuracy, athleticism, arm strength, and poise under pressure. Not once did Trubisky look uncomfortable back there. There’s something to say about that.
Sure, some people are going to say: Trubisky needs to sit so he can learn. Learn what? How not to play quarterback from Mike Glennon? Learn how to hold a clipboard? Learn how to keep a seat warm?
Sitting on the bench isn’t going to do him much good. Where is he going to get those game reps that he needs to progress?
A lot of people are focused on the potential of Trubisky making mistakes. And guess what, it’s going to happen. That’s part of the learning process. You have to make mistakes to learn. And those mistakes, whether it’s Trubisky’s rookie year on the field or his sophomore year on the field, are going to happen. And there’s no preventing that.
Is Trubisky ready to start in the NFL? Trubisky sure believes so. And given what we’ve seen in preseason, why shouldn’t we believe him?
SIT HIM FOR A LITTLE BIT!
What’s the harm in sitting Trubisky for a few weeks before he makes his NFL debut? Why are we rushing Trubisky’s future?
Trubisky is coming into the NFL relatively inexperienced in college. He started just 13 games for North Carolina, where he flashed his potential on the national stage. But college and NFL are two completely different things. But experience, in whatever facet, is always important.
Perhaps the biggest concern to this point is the potential of throwing an inexperienced Trubisky out there too soon. The Bears are making it a point to develop their franchise quarterback the right way. And throwing him into the fire that is the Bears’ opening schedule isn’t something that they’d be too keen on.
Chicago’s opening schedule includes games against the Falcons, Buccaneers, Steelers, and Packers, four playoff-caliber teams and four dominant defenses. Naturally, there’s going to be a fear there when it comes to throwing Trubisky out there too soon.
Ultimately, we’ll have to wait and see which approach the Bears opt for. While starting him Week 1 seems quite unlikely, there’s no question that Trubisky will see starts this season for the Bears. But how long will he — and us excited, optimistic fans — have to wait?