Final thoughts: Will Mitch Trubisky's first 16 games predict anything about his future?

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Sunday’s game will mark the 16th game of Mitch Trubisky’s career, which will make him the 58th quarterback since 2000 to play 16 games in his first two years in the NFL. It’s an interesting list when sorted by passer rating: At the top are Dak Prescott (104.9), Ben Roethlisberger (104.7), Russell Wilson (100.0), Robert Griffin III (99.6) and Nick Foles (98.7). The bottom five: Chris Weinke (61.9), Joey Harrington (61.0), Mike McMahom (60.1), DeShone Kizer (60.0) and Kyle Orton (59.7). 

Trubisky’s current career rating of 77.6 would place him right in the middle of the pack, in the range of 19 quarterbacks with first-16-game passer ratings between 72.6-82.6 (be warned, a list follows):

Jared Goff (82.3), Aaron Brooks (81.6), Trent Edwards (80.7), Andy Dalton (80.4), Joe Flacco (80.3), Carson Wentz (79.3), Christian Ponder (79.1), Jason Campbell (78.4), Jake Locker (78.4), Chris Simms (78.1), Michael Vick (77.2), Derek Carr (76.6), Sam Bradford (76.5), Andrew Luck (76.5), Ryan Tannehill (76.1), Colt McCoy (75.7), Drew Brees (74.9), Patrick Ramsey (74.5), Chad Henne (74.4). 

Even lower down the list are Eli Manning (70.4) and Alex Smith (63.9), while Jay Cutler (89.3) and Mike Glennon (84.6) rank in the top 12 when sorting quarterbacks by these parameters. 

This doesn’t take into account anything we’ve seen from Trubisky, more on the qualitative side, in 2018. But the point of this exercise is to show that 16 games isn’t always predictive of a quarterback’s future. 

More Praise for Mack

Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will also mark the four-week anniversary of Khalil Mack’s introduction at Halas Hall, and in a short amount of time the 27-year-old has left an incredibly positive impression around these parts. 

Obviously, Mack’s on-field production speaks for itself: Four sacks, 20 hurries (both of which are tied for the league lead), three forced fumbles (which leads the league) and an interception and touchdown to boot. 

But over the last 28 days, Bears coaches and players have learned what kind of a person Mack is off the field. And that’s left as positive an impression on everyone around Halas Hall as his work on the field has. 

“I think what I’ve enjoyed most about him is this guy does not have an ounce of prima donna in his body,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “He’s a joy to be around. The other players like being around him. The coaches like being around him.  So, I mean, besides his talent and production, which everybody sees, he’s really a breath of fresh air to be around, too, on a daily basis.”

Players notice that attitude in practice and off the field, just like they notice how relentless he is on game days. 

“He's a dog out there,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “He's a fighter. I've seen him get through three, four, five people. Young guys see that and the team's buying into that and we're all happy to have him on this side.”

In a sense, Mack has proven to be the perfect fit for the Bears’ defense. Any player of his caliber would’ve been ideal, of course, but his team-first approach fits a Bears defense that’s established itself as more about the collective than any single player. 

“He’s … a guy that talented likes to play the game, has a great attitude,” Fangio said. “He’s for the team. That stuff’s contagious.”

Sneaky Success

Chris Tabor doesn’t have a Devin Hester at his disposal, but the first-year Bears special teams coordinator has done an admirable job through three games turning one of the league’s perennially-worst units into one of the best through three games. 

The Bears rank ninth in special teams DVOA after finishing 23rd, 18th, 21st and 25th over the last four years. More colloquially, special teams are generally noticed when something really good happens — like a Tarik Cohen punt return or a Sherrick McManis one-on-one tackle on a booming Pat O’Donnell punt (which happened against Arizona) — or something really bad happens. So far, there haven’t been much, if any, of those bad moments. 

“We have a point production system,” Tabor said. “Guys are always trying to get their points. You want it to be competitive. If a guy gets a tackle, it makes a guy say, ‘Hey I’m going to go get that tackle.’ We’re competing against the other team. We’re also competing against ourselves. I think that’s what makes special teams fun.” 
 

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