- The Chicago Bears are looking to sign a veteran quarterback to back up starter Mitchell Trubisky.
- Marcus Mariota, Case Keenum, and Andy Dalton are all likely targets.
- Trubisky’s play regressed sharply in 2019, but the Bears hope a veteran presence will stabilize his play.
CHICAGO – Multiple NFL sources expect the Chicago Bears to sign a veteran quarterback during the 2020 offseason. Incumbent Mitchell Trubisky is still slated to start in 2020, but the Bears have not yet committed to picking up his fifth-year team option in 2021.
Trubisky, the former No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, has had an inconsistent career to date. After struggling in his rookie season, Trubisky played well in 2018, posting a 95.4 Quarterback Rating and averaging 7.1 yards per attempt.
In 2019, Trubisky’s play regressed sharply. His QB rating dropped to 83.0 and his yards per attempt decreased to 6.1.
Executives for the Bears are hoping that a veteran presence/mentor figure will help stabilize Trubisky’s play in 2020. They had hoped that journeyman Chase Daniel could fill that role in 2018 and 2019, but appear to be unsatisfied with the results.
The two quarterbacks most likely to be targeted for this offseason addition are current free agents Marcus Mariota and Case Keenum, both of whom struggled in 2019 but have had successful stints as starters in the past.
Another possibility is Cincinnati Bengals’ quarterback Andy Dalton. Dalton is still under contract with the Bengals, but Cincinnati’s front office has indicated an interest in trading Dalton, likely to make room to draft Joe Burrow with the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Bears have $25.2 million in cap space entering the offseason, but they will also likely look to make multiple signings along the offensive line and in the secondary, which could limit the available pool of money for a backup quarterback signing.
Trubisky’s 2019 Struggles – An Advanced Statistical Breakdown
Trubisky’s drop-off in play was surprising to many fans who saw him as an exciting young playmaker in 2018 and assumed that he would make another jump in his third season. The Bears retained their entire offensive coaching staff, and that level of continuity is usually great for quarterback development.
Instead, Trubisky’s numbers regressed across the board. Part of this regression stemmed from spotty offensive line play. Adjusting for the snap count, the average Pro Football Focus Grade of the seven most-used Bears’ offensive linemen dropped from 71.2 to 62.1 in 2019.
Trubisky was also sacked 38 times and hit 32 times in 2019, compared to 24 and 18 times, respectively, in 2018.
This sounds alarming on paper, but when you account for the increased number of dropbacks, the percentage of passing plays that saw Trubisky being pressured by the defense stayed relatively consistent—23.3% in 2018 and 24.4% in 2019.
Other numbers also support the idea that Trubisky regressed independent of his offensive line play.
Average air yards are a relatively new stat that removes yards after catch from the equation and instead quantifies the average distance from the line of scrimmage for receiving targets. In 2019, Trubisky’s average air yards per completion dropped from 6.3 to 5.3.
This indicates that offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich dialed up more short passes for Trubisky, but his efficiency still decreased sharply.
Despite the shortening of the passing game, Trubisky still completed a lower percentage of his passes than he did in 2018—down from 66.6% to 63.3%.
On film, Trubisky often looked erratic or confused. His accuracy was relatively unchanged, but he struggled with decision-making and his command of the Bears’ offense looked tenuous.
If Trubisky’s play does not improve considerably in 2020, expect the Bears to let him walk in free agency after the season and focus on drafting a quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft. Oddsmakers expect the Bears to struggle in 2020. Their preseason Super Bowl odds sit at +3500, or about 2.5%.
Those odds are unlikely to change because of a backup quarterback signing.
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With a lifelong background in statistics and sports, Carter is a natural fit at BettingSuperBowl. With a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in sport management with a focus in performance analytics, he aims to use his background to craft compelling stories using hard data. He also likes to keep things lighthearted when possible. When he isn’t writing or poring over spreadsheets, Carter likes to read and lament the slow decline of Florida State football and the decades-long tragedy that is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.