I’ll start this article by clearly stating I like Mitchell Trubisky and hope that he becomes what everyone anticipated from a second overall pick. If you’re a Chicago Bear and put it all out on the field, I will always look for the positives first. Even as someone who wants Mitchell Trubisky to succeed, I am a realist and realize that his time to develop is running out. Many fans threw in the Trubisky towel before he ever stepped on the field, and with Patrick Mahomes‘ and Deshaun Watson‘s success, it’s a constant reminder to Bears fans of what could have been. This article isn’t going to continue to beat the dead horse. Instead, I have found a new wrinkle that leads me to believe that Ryan Pace’s patience is running out, and this is a prove-it year for Mitchell Trubisky.
When Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy addressed the media following the 2019 season, Pace stated multiple times that Trubisky will be the starter in 2020. He also addressed the fact that both Chase Daniel and Tyler Bray will no longer be under contract, and they will evaluate all options for quarterback depth. Let’s be real, there aren’t many young, talented, healthy QB’s that would be willing to take a team-friendly deal to play for the Chicago Bears. There are a few options out there that will demand a large contract (Teddy Bridgewater, Cam Newton), and there are a few less expensive options (Andy Dalton, Marcus Mariota).
In 2020, the Bears learned that they weren’t only a capable quarterback away from winning a Super Bowl, so I find it hard to believe they are going to give out a hefty contract to any big name in free agency. I also don’t believe that Marcus Mariota will come in and be the savior, but if he does, I have no problem eating my words. I also find it hard to believe that drafting a quarterback in the second round is the direction the Bears will be going in. The Bears had offensive line and tight end issues, and they will also be losing some players to free agency. They will need those two second-round picks to fill holes throughout the roster. So by default, Trubisky will be the starter in 2020. This is good news for the ‘Truthers,’ but this is where the disappointment comes for y’all.
In Ryan Pace’s 2016 end-of-season press conference, he was asked about Kyle Fuller, and he stated:
I’m not giving up on Kyle Fuller, ya know, I mean he was a high draft pick by this organization and it’s on us to do everything we can to get him playing back at a top level… again, I haven’t given up on him, were going to surround him with everything we need to this offseason.
When Kyle Fuller started as a Bear, he was a promising prospect. He began well but didn’t show consistency as a starter, and then the injury bug caught him. He sat out the entire 2016 season, which led to Ryan Pace not signing his fifth-year option. Pace wasn’t directly asked about Fuller’s fifth-year option in the presser, but he went on to say how important the offseason was going to be for him. Sound familiar? Eventually, Fuller balled out during his “prove-it” season and Pace had to pay top dollar to retain him. Now, keep in context that he said Fuller was a “high draft pick by this organization,” because Fuller was one of Phil Emery’s draft picks.
Following the 2017 season, Ryan Pace’s press conference was dominated by questions about the coaching search, but there was a tiny bit of input about Kevin White. Again, no one directly asked about whether or not he would get his fifth-year option, but he did elude to how important it was for him to stay healthy in order to develop. As we know, White’s fifth-year option was declined, he finished out his rookie contract with the Bears, and then he walked in free agency. This is partially why I don’t believe Pace is too emotionally invested in keeping his high draft picks around.
Finally, during the 2018 end-of-season press conference, Pace was directly asked about Leonard Floyd‘s fifth-year option. Without hesitation, Pace replied:
I think with Leonard, that’s a fair question, and our plan is to pick up that fifth-year option. He played well and we’re happy where he’s at, and I feel like Leonard’s still doing this (motions upwards), and I think you felt that as the season was going on, so that’s something we plan on doing.
Leonard Floyd is another heavily debated player by Bears fans. He is solid against the run and in pass protection, but he was drafted to be a double-digit sack guy as an edge rusher. His sack numbers aren’t impressive, but overall I think he isn’t the liability he’s made out to be.
Now, fast forward to the most recent postseason press conference. Ryan Pace was asked about Mitchell Trubisky’s fifth-year option and he stated:
We’re not at that point right now, with the season just ending two days ago, so we’re not at that point right now and when we will, we’ll let you guys know.
He was clearly deflecting. I’m not going to say the option won’t be picked up, but it seems Pace wants to buy time to see how free agency and the draft pan out before committing to the option. I find it strange that he was so willing to commit to him as the starter but wouldn’t say he was picking up his fifth-year option. This leads me to believe that Pace isn’t as emotionally invested in Trubisky as it looked like in the press conference.
2020 will be a prove-it year for Trubisky. He will be the starter, but there will be a more capable back up in place if he continues to be an inconstant player. The best situation for the Chicago Bears would be him taking the next step and balling out. Ryan Pace likes to keep everything close to the vest, but studying his tendencies helped reveal that he’s still got his toes in the water seeing if it’s warm enough to jump in. His commitment to Trubisky could be truthful, or it could be similar to the smokescreen signing of Mike Glennon. This offseason will reveal much more, but all signs are pointing to 2020 being Trubisky’s last chance to display significant development.