At some point the NFL’s old guard will have to admit it. There is now more than one way for a quarterback to succeed in professional football.
Mitch Trubisky’s stat line from September 30th’s 48-10 Chicago Bears victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had to look like a crazy fluke to the same NFL-only fans who thought Tim Tebow’s stats against the Pittsburgh Steelers were screw-ball, or that Cam Newton and Russell Wilson were one-hit wonders as rookies.
To college-savvy viewers, Trubisky’s stats against the Buccaneers – 6 TD passes on just 26 attempts, Trubisky matching RB Tank Cohen with 50+ rushing yards – looked absolutely normal. It would be more or less a typical day for an Urban Meyer QB…against Tulane.
No, literally, it was pretty much an Urban Meyer QB’s day against Tulane. In the Buckeyes’ 49-6 win over the Green Wave this season, Meyer’s snap-taker Dwayne Haskins threw 5 touchdown passes on just 24 attempts. While Haskins’ 3 carries didn’t amount to much, backup QB Tate Martell attempted 8 rushes. And passed for 100+ yards.
Bettors are never sure what to do when they see NCAA-ball in the NFL…that’s been proven time and again. NFL odds-makers only gave the Bears a slight edge headed into this Sunday’s game at Miami. But the betting public likes Chicago enough to push the line above a field goal.
Who: Chicago Bears at Miami Dolphins
When: Sunday, October 14th, 1 PM EST
Where: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, FL
Lines: Chicago (-3.5) at Miami (+3.5) / O/U Total: (42)
Colin Cowherd is correct when he explains the different mentalities of the Football Bowl Subdivision and the National Football League. NFL teams think that if they scientifically formulate a roster and a long-term plan, an efficient passing QB who can potentially stay healthy can lead them to the promised land over time. If he can run, fine, but be sure not to encourage it too much.
College teams need to win right now, with whatever talent is on the field. NCAA signal-callers are taught that the key to winning football games is gaining yards and scoring – by ground, air, hook or crook.
Tebow represented the second mentality in the NFL. So did Colin Kaepernick. Both players were too grooved into the college style to adapt to the scientific long-term plan. They wanted yards and would sacrifice their bodies to get them, which has as much to do with why both are now out of the league as their politics.
Mitchell Trubisky isn’t electric fast and doesn’t have the greatest arm ever. Most Chicago fans probably rolled their eyes whenever he took off running or attempted a college-style option play against an NFC North rival. But the Bears’ coaching staff deserves tons of credit. They allowed the UNC graduate to keep developing in a style that is comfortable to him – banging and crashing, flinging quick-outs and looking for the home run ball – even though some would label it “college” and therefore inferior.
The Bears are now 3-1 and 1st place in the division behind Trubisky. Against Tampa Bay, an 11-on-11 rushing attack generated 4.5 yards a pop. When the Bucs put too many guys in the box or when CBs bit on play-action fakes, it was all over. Trubisky passed over the top to Joshua Bellamy and Taylor Gabriel.
It’s ironic that before the Brian Urlacher-led Bears took on Tebow’s Broncos in 2011, many on the Chicago defense called it “crap football.” How did that game go? Timmy’s read-option game controlled the ball but couldn’t score – most of the afternoon was boring. But with a few minutes left, the Bears sat back, thinking that the so-called worst NFL quarterback ever (read: an NCAA-ball QB, even more taboo at the time) would throw inaccurately. He did not, and the Broncos came back to win 13-10 in overtime.
(In case anyone is getting the wrong impression, I am one of apparently 5% of Americans who believe that Tim Tebow was neither the best nor the worst QB to ever play football, and also neither the best or worst baseball player ever. I know…95% of whoever is reading thinks I’m wrong, being from one camp or the other.)
Just as it happened 7 years ago, Vegas is unsure what to do about a moderate-running speed QB who still finds a way to help his offense gain on the ground, and thus also through the air. The odds for Chicago vs Miami on October 14th only cast the Bears as a (-3.5) point favorite.
Pundits aren’t wrong to tell Windy City fans to settle down, but that doesn’t mean the Monsters of the Midway won’t keep on winning. The Dolphins have lost 2 in a row after a promising start, and their most recent victory is a 28-20 win over the re-building Oakland Raiders. Miami is also coming off a total self-destruction in the 4th quarter of a demoralizing 27-17 loss to Cincinnati.
I’m liking Chicago to win by at least a touchdown. A quarterback’s contribution to the power running game is still rare and taboo enough in the NFL that the benefits are undervalued. Maybe Trubisky is a flash in the pan, maybe he’ll get hurt running the ball or scrambling, like the cynics hope for.
But right now, he’s on the rise, and so are the Bears. In a world of betting “trends” that’s the most significant one you can go on. A hot team against a cold team? I’ll take the snow-bred visitors in balmy Miami.