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Bleacher Report – Vikings

A look at Mitchell Trubisky’s arm, improvement and rookie moments

By Matthew Coller

With a win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings will wrap up a first-round bye in the playoffs and guarantee themselves at least one game at US Bank Stadium. The Bears would seem like another pothole in the road the the Vikings can easily step over. They are 5-10 and have a head coach who is unlikely to return next season.

Chicago does not fall into the same downtrodden category as the Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers, who the Vikings crushed by a combined score of 50-7 the last two weeks. The Bears also crushed the Bengals, then beat down the lowly Cleveland Browns 20-3 last week.

One of the reasons they have not let down their guard in meaningless games is the play of rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who has had enough impressive moments during his first season to have the Bears feeling good about their future.

Trubisky had a rough debut on Monday Night Football back in October, throwing for only 128 yards and tossing a late-game interception that set up the winning field goal for the Vikings. Since then he has played very well in a number of games, picking up a 297 yards and one touchdown in a close loss to the Packers and going 25-for-32 with 271 yards and a touchdown against the Bengals.

There have also been some rough outings. The Eagles tormented him to the tune of 147 yards on 33 throws and two interceptions in a 31-3 loss and the Detroit Lions picked him off three times in a 20-10 loss.

Even in defeat – and on a tough day – Trubisky showed flashes against the Lions. He also had some rookie moments.

The Bears like to spread things out, especially with scat back Tarik Cohen in the game. On this play, the Lions drop back in zone coverage. On the weak side, the Bears’ two receivers have an oft-used route combination in which one receiver clears out the corner and safety, leaving the other with room to cut underneath into open space on a dig or slant route.

Trubisky drops back and times the route well with his foot work, stepping into his throw just as his receiver breaks toward the open area in the secondary.

While No. 24 on Detroit reacts quickly, Kendall Wright has a slight edge. Trubisky has to lead Wright enough to catch the ball out in front of his body so the corner cannot knock it down. Here is the full play.

This was not the only impressive intermediate-to-deep throw that Trubisky made against the Lions. Down 20-3, Detroit was playing deep zone as they tried to force the young quarterback to throw everything underneath. On this play, he fires the ball 20 yards down field to hit his receiver on a deep dig route between four defenders, again showing the accuracy and strength of his arm when he steps into a throw. Notice also that Trubisky was smacked by the Lions’ defensive tackle as he let the ball go, but he didn’t hesitate when stepping up.

In his good moments, Trubisky can be patient in the pocket and work his eyes across the field. He can use his exceptional athleticism to take off and create plays with his legs.

But in his bad moments, he can try too hard to make a great throw.

Take for example the play below. The Bears call for a play-action pass in which Trubisky has to roll to his left and throw across his body. That’s a tough task, but a good athlete with a solid arm can handle such a call. As he rolls out, the rookie QB fires the ball to his receiver running a deep out underneath a go route that’s meant to push Darius Slay back to create space.

However, Trubisky overthrows his man and Slay grabs the ball along the sideline for an interception.

The degree of difficulty of launching the ball from the 14-yard line to the 40 to hit a receiver in stride at the sideline is very high.

A look from up top shows that Trubisky had his tight end coming across the middle at the 30 yard line. Instead of looking to make a big-time throw, if the Bears’ young quarterback had looked for the makable play, he could have picked up a first down and kept the drive moving.

Making matters worse, Slay had his eyes on Trubisky the entire time. Even if the throw was on target, he was aware that hitting a go route while moving left would be an incredible feat, so Slay stopped on a dime and sprinted toward the underneath route as soon as he saw Trubisky begin his wind up. It might have been broken up even if the throw was on point.

Overall Trubisky has a 78.5 quarterback rating, completes 59.9 percent of his passes and has thrown seven touchdowns, seven interceptions. He’s also run for 246 yards. Those numbers won’t scare the Vikings’ defense. And it would seem likely that they can put him in positions – a la third-and-long or playing from behind – to force throws as he did against Detroit.

But Trubisky can have his good moments too. So the Vikings will have to be aware of his growth.

The post A look at Mitchell Trubisky’s arm, improvement and rookie moments appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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