Why Deshaun Watson’s success has absolutely nothing to do with Mitch Trubisky

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

Mitch Trubisky and Deshaun Watson are playing in two vastly different situations. Therefore, trying to compare them and say the Chicago Bears blew it by taking Trubisky over Watson at this point doesn’t make sense.

I knew this was coming.

The moment the Chicago Bears elected to go with Mitch Trubisky as their hopeful franchise quarterback rather than Deshaun Watson, this day was set.

The bait has been lying there for weeks, and now fans and pundits alike are taking it with jaws of steel.

What might I be talking about, you ask? Oh, nothing…it’s just that halfway into their respective rookie seasons, in which Watson has set the world on fire and Trubisky is twisting in the Soldier Field wind, the Bears messed up in taking Trubisky and passing on Watson.

Watson, who just set the rookie record for touchdown passes with 19, looks like the next Tom Brady. Trubisky, with his measly 512 yards and just two touchdown passes, is a bust: a mere pretender.

And now, the Bears will never make the playoffs ever again and must watch helplessly while Watson wins 10 Super Bowls. It is known.

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Nevermind the number of times we’ve seen a rookie quarterback start off slow then turn out great or, on the flip side, start out fast then burn out spectacularly. Nope, we all know how this is turning out. No context or caution needed.

There’s something wrong with that, and it’s quite a big thing, too: almost nothing about Trubisky’s and Watson’s situations is comparable.

As such, using Watson as some kind of measuring stick for Trubisky is completely useless. And that, among other things, means that deciding that the Bears made a mistake in choosing Trubisky over Watson at this juncture makes absolutely no sense. At all.

So, do yourselves a favor and slow your roll.

A Tale of Two Situations

I will be honest: I did not want the Chicago Bears to draft Watson, at least not with the third-overall pick. He’s always a brilliant playmaker and a consummate winner, but he never wowed me as a quarterback prospect coming out of Clemson.

That said, I love what Watson has done so far with Houston.

The numbers through his first seven NFL games: 61.8% of passes completed for 1,699 yards, 19 touchdowns (a rookie record through first seven starts) to eight interceptions, 269 yards rushing for two touchdowns. If he keeps this up, he’ll run away from Kareem Hunt for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

I’d hold off on the MVP talk, though: the Texans are just 3-4, though that’s hardly Watson’s fault.

He deserves every bit of praise for what he’s done thus far. And if he ends up being the greatest quarterback at ever lived, I’ll happily admit to being wrong.

But for goodness’ sake, stop using his performance as a referendum on Trubisky. Logically, you simply cannot do that.

They’re not even remotely on equal footing right now.

The Supporting Cast

I will say this at the outset: Deshaun Watson is not good just because of the players around him. He is perfectly capable of doing stuff like this all on his own:

But you’d be way off the mark to suggest that having DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller doesn’t make things undeniably easier for him.

Find me a Chicago Bears wide receiver that can do this:

Or dust literally anyone in the league like this (props on the throw, though):

Trubisky’s current best receiver is Kendall Wright. Dontrelle Inman, who hasn’t even played a game here yet, and Tre McBride are next up. These things matter.

Also, before claiming Watson has had a completely revolutionary impact on Hopkins’ career, let’s not forget that he had a 1,200-yard season (2014) with Ryan Fitzpatrick and 1,500-yard season with Brian Hoyer (2015). Those numbers have undoubtedly been down the last two years, but still: all he needs is someone to throw him a football in his general vicinity consistently.

In this case, I’d say: who’s elevating whose game here?

Meanwhile, Fuller is unreasonably fast, even by NFL standards. He can run by anyone he wants to at any time and did it plenty last year. Of course, it helps that Watson can get him the football, so again, props to him. But again, find me a Bears wide receiver that runs a 4.3.

It’s not like Watson is taking bums and turning them into heroes. He’s making use of very good players at his disposal, as well he should.

By the way, you do realize this was more or less his strategy in college too, right? When in doubt, find former Clemson teammate Mike Williams and throw it up? When he didn’t have those types of receivers in the preseason, he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn at times.

As good as Watson has been, it’s not as if he’s playing some flawless brand of quarterbacking. Not really. He’s just running around out there slinging it with no regard for human life. And when your guy can do this or you can escape from any potential sack, you can make that work.

However, occasionally, you’re also going to get this:


And this:

Still, that’s just the cost of doing business with a rookie quarterback. Interceptions happen, especially against top defenses. Eight interceptions aren’t too bad if you’re going to throw 19 TDs.

Trubisky’s two interceptions have come at the end of games, so we haven’t had a chance to see how the Bears would respond to him throwing one in the middle of a contest. Judging from their handling of Mike Glennon, I’d expect them to banish Trubisky’s arm to the Shadow Realm.

Which brings me to my next point…

The Coaching Philosophy

You know arguably the best part about being Deshaun Watson, aside from having one of the best young receiver tandems in football?

A coach that keeps the training wheels off him.

Bill O’Brien has committed to two things with his rookie quarterback: aggressively pushing the football down the field and living with Watson’s good and bad. As it turns out, both guys are being rewarded for it.

When Watson makes mistakes, his coach hasn’t immediately looked to take the ball out of the kid’s hands. He’s not just tailoring his offense to Watson’s strengths and preferences. He’s letting him play confident, unburdened football.

Well, apparently until O’Brien loses his nerve, does his best Fox impersonation and tries not to lose at the end. Looks like Trubisky isn’t the only guy who has to deal with that.

But for the most part, the Texans’ offense the Deshaun Watson Show.

Trubisky will never get that from Fox.

Unfortunately, the way he prefers to win – with a strong running game and defense – doesn’t work when everyone knows you’re running all the time and the defense can’t get off the field. That’s part of why the Bears, even with an arguably top-five defense, are 3-5.

Allowing Trubisky to take his lumps, like on his INT against Minnesota, could get frustrating. And he doesn’t have a single pass-catcher that can reduce his margin for error. That said, is it not better to let him learn his limits now rather than later?

The irony is that Fox simultaneously believes that Trubisky is his best chance to win while also fearing that unbridling him will cost him his paychecks. As such, so don’t expect that.

But don’t confuse Fox’s and Loggains’ hesitance for Trubisky somehow being unready to play. As I pointed out before, aside from a couple years with Jake Delhomme/Steve Smith and Peyton Manning, this is who Fox is.

Also, do all of you forget that you’ve seen Trubisky do this?

Remember that game your team won two weekends ago because your quarterback made a play few others could make?

Where are you getting the idea that he somehow can’t be the Chicago Bears’ franchise quarterback just because another rookie is having a better season this year in a completely different situation? I know people say the Bears drive them to drink sometimes, but goodness…control yourselves.

I’ll repeat: I believe Trubisky won’t have a real chance to reach his potential until Fox is gone. And for his sake, that probably should happen after this year. But we’ll see what the season holds.

Jury’s Out…For a While

No one is telling you that you can’t have a preference as to which player you’d rather have. If you wish the Bears had taken Watson, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. You’re under no obligation to love Trubisky with all your heart.

But if you want to evaluate the performances of these two rookie quarterbacks in any meaningful way, hot takes and snap judgments won’t do. Context matters.

Deshaun Watson would absolutely not have this much success in Chicago throwing to receivers that can’t help him out. If you’ve watched this team, you know that to be true. Plus, Fox would not allow him to do what he’s doing now, plain and simple.

Trubisky would flourish in Houston with that supporting cast and coach, though perhaps without the gaudy numbers. It’s all relative.

Next: Three Bears who helped themselves in loss to Saints

In any case, two things are true. For one, it’s far too early to crown Watson and discard Trubisky. The league has caught up to stud rookies before, and guys make big jumps from Year 1 to 2 all the time. And beyond that, one’s success or failure means absolutely nothing compared to the other’s.

The Chicago Bears were not a quarterback away from arguably being a playoff team when the NFL Draft rolled around. The Houston Texans were. And it shows on the field.

Keep that in mind next time you reach for the “bust” label when talking about Trubisky or the “GOAT” label with Watson based on a few wildly incomparable games. You’ll be smarter and more sane for it.