The Chicago Bears will have an interesting decision to make on how they use Mitchell Trubisky against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Over the last few weeks, Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has played incredibly steady football. In the final three games against the Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers, and the Minnesota Vikings, Trubisky has completed a whopping 76 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and zero interceptions.
In those games, he has also recorded a passer rating 120.4, 113.5, and 85.9 respectively. What that means is his taken care of the football, minimized mistakes, and guided his team to three wins.
It has been a critically important stretch considering it comes on the heels of his worst performance of the year, where he went 16/30 for 110 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions against the Los Angeles Rams. By his own admission, he tried to do too much in that game, which is a mantra he’s repeated following poor performances.
As you can see from the statistics below, his intended air yards dropped by nearly 2.5 yards from Weeks 4-14 to Weeks 15-17. His rate of 7.4 intended air yards per pass was more on par with his first three games of the season, though his overall performance in the final three weeks was much better than the first three. This is most likely simply due to his progression and maturation over the season.
Nevertheless, it is a departure from the majority of the season where he was taking many chances down the field. Since returning from his injury, those shots have dried up a bit. In doing so, he’s been more effective with some even wondering whether Matt Nagy has dialed things back for him in his game planning.
Here’s the rub.
First, this is not necessarily the type of game that Nagy has shown he prefers to call in the limited sample size we have. Nagy has shown a preference for taking chances downfield.
Second, the Philadelphia Eagles greatest weakness, on either side of the ball, is in their secondary — and there’s not even a close second place. Devastated by injuries to their unit, the Eagles have scraped players off the scrap-heap to play in the defensive backfield.
Guys like Avonte Maddox, Rasul Douglas, Sidney Jones, and Cre’Von LeBlanc (a familiar face to Bears fans) make up the cornerbacks, and Jones and Maddox have been limited in practice this week. At the safety position, they’ll trot out another familiar face, Corey Graham and staple Malcolm Jenkins.
What’s it all mean? Well, it means that under normal circumstances, a team would attack that secondary by taking shots downfield early and often. Naturally, you want to exploit the other team’s greatest weakness and this is their Achilles heel.
Take a look at their last four games. Throw out the outlier against the Washington Redskins who were playing with their fourth quarterback this season, and look that the number of passing attempts and passing yards:
- Dallas Cowboys: 54 attempts, 434 yards
- Los Angeles Rams: 54 attempts, 325 yards
- Houston Texans: 40 attempts, 309 yards
They’re giving up 269 passing yards per game (4308 total) which is good for third worst in the league, and have yielded an average passer rating of 93.4. By contrast, the Bears have allowed a total of 3515 yards and an average passer rating of 72.9.
So what does Nagy do? He has a quarterback playing his best football of the season by taking what the defense has given him and scaling it back a bit. On the other hand, the most logical approach is to throw the ball downfield against an opponent who is among the worst in the league in that area.
Who knows what he will ultimately do, but don’t forget his mantra that has been printed on his play sheet all season: BE YOU.