The following is the first of eight position reviews of the Bears 2018 season.
Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky blossomed in his first full season as an NFL starter, leading the Bears to a 12-4 record and their first NFC North title since 2010.
Operating a new offense installed by first-year coach Matt Nagy, Trubisky was named to the Pro Bowl after completing 66.6 percent of his passes for 3,223 yards with 24 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a 95.4 passer rating while making 14 starts. He also rushed for 421 yards and three TDs on 68 carries.
Trubisky became the first Bears quarterback to post a passer rating of at least 120.0 in four games in a season and tied the franchise record with four 300-yard performances. He also set a Bears postseason record with 303 yards in a wild-card loss to the Eagles.
“Not one person truly knows how far that kid has come this year more than me,” Nagy said. “We’re lucky to have him. I’m looking forward to the future, I really am with him, because the city of Chicago is lucky to have that kid at quarterback.”
In a 48-10 win over the Buccaneers Sept. 30 at Soldier Field, Trubisky threw six touchdown passes, tied for the second most in Bears history behind Hall of Famer Sid Luckman’s seven TD passes on Nov. 14, 1943 in a 56-7 win over the Giants.
Trubisky also became the first Bears player to toss five TD passes in a half and his 154.6 passer rating was the highest by a Bears quarterback since Dec. 7, 1980 when Vince Evans posted a perfect 158.3 rating in a 61-7 victory over the Packers.
Trubisky’s nine touchdown passes against the Buccaneers and Dolphins were the most by a Bears quarterback in back-to-back games since Luckman also had nine in 1943. In addition, Trubisky’s 13 TD passes during Weeks 4-8 were the most by a Bears quarterback over a four-game span since Luckman also had 13 in 1947.
In a Week 10 win over the Lions, Trubisky passed for a career-high 355 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for a fourth TD to earn NFC player of the week honors.
Trubisky became the first Bears quarterback named to the Pro Bowl since Jim McMahon was chosen in 1985 when he helped lead the team to its first Super Bowl title.
“The thing you really notice as a player but not necessarily as an outsider is the commitment to work that he puts in day-in and day-out,” said center Cody Whitehair, who joined Trubisky at the Pro Bowl. “Behind the scenes, the guy is studying film for 8-to-10 hours. He’s the first guy in the building and the last guy out of the building. He really puts in the extra time and it helps him on Sundays.”
Nagy was hired by the Bears due in large part to his ability to get the most out of quarterbacks. With Nagy serving as Chiefs offensive coordinator in 2017, Kansas City’s Alex Smith led the NFL with a 104.7 passer rating. As expected, the Bears’ first-year coach played a major role in Trubisky’s development this season.
“You could just feel the relationship between those two grow,” general manager Ryan Pace said at his end-of-season press conference. “You talk about important relationships in the building. The head coach/play-caller and the quarterback, that’s pretty critical, and we feel strong about that relationship.”
After Trubisky sustained a right shoulder injury late in a Week 11 win over the Vikings, backup quarterback Chase Daniel started the next two games.
Daniel led the Bears to a 23-16 win over the Lions on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit—their third division victory in a rugged 12-day stretch—passing for 230 yards and two touchdowns. But he threw two interceptions in a 30-27 overtime loss to the Giants.