It’s no secret at this point in the season that Mitch Trubisky likes to make plays with his legs.
Said plays generally end in one of three ways. They can end in a five to 20 yard gain on the ground for the second-year signal caller, a strike to an open downfield target for a chunk play or a horrendous interception after Trubisky tries to make something out of nothing.
On Sunday, we saw each scenario play out for the former number two overall pick out of North Carolina. Here’s a look, from this week’s all-22 film, at why each play happened, what they reveal about what the team thinks about Trubisky, and what Trubisky can do to repeat the good and not the bad.
Note: yes, this week the all-22 film is usable. This is because the game was at Levi’s Stadium and not Soldier Field, where it was shot by a professional and not three children stacked on top of each other in a trench coat.
If the extracurriculars at the end didn’t happen, this play would have been called back anyway due to a holding call on Charles Leno. It’s a shame because Leno didn’t need to hold. Trubisky would have taken the edge anyway.
The defensive end – Ronald Blair – made the mistake of trying to work an inside move to try and get to Trubisky. As soon as that happens, as long as he doesn’t completely pants Leno (which he did not), he is screwed. Trubisky froze the rest of the defensive line with a pump fake and took the edge, which he would have gotten easily even if Leno didn’t hold.
This play shows how helpful Trubisky can be to his offensive line if they do it right. His speed and awareness of when to bail – the latter of which has improved greatly throughout the season – has made it so that defensive ends have to respect it. This being the case, ends and outside linebackers can’t work those inside swim moves or anti-double team dips or even long-arms, because they know that Trubisky can and will get the edge and make a play.
Additionally, watch the end of the play after Trubisky was cheap-shotted. Anthony Miller and Taylor Gabriel immediately came to his defense and started throwing hands, but even Trubisky immediately popped up and was right there with his receivers. Players see this and respect it, which is a big reason why they’ve bought into Trubisky as their leader.
This is one of a couple times on Sunday where we saw Trubisky’s signature escape move. It only works if he’s super patient – waiting, waiting, waiting, stepping up in the pocket, and then at the very last second, he spins out of a potential tackler’s arms and bails the other way.
Once he spins out and bails, the line creates a bit of a wall for him to run around and find open space. He keeps his eyes downfield the entire time he’s rolling out, which was definitely a good thing here because he didn’t have much if any, room to run. He keeps looking until he finally sees Taquan Mizzell flash open along the right sideline for a big gain.
This was a stellar play from number 10, but he did get slightly lucky that Mizzell was able to get himself open downfield. This is because if no one is open on those extended plays, Trubisky can try to make something out of nothing and end up in…
Before I get into what didn’t work here, I’ll go over a couple things that did. First of all, Trubisky executed his escape perfectly. He spun around and then found a seam in what used to be the right B gap and escaped towards room on the outside.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, this was an excellently designed play by Matt Nagy against a two-deep safety look. He had Trey Burton fade into the left corner of the end zone and snuck Allen Robinson in behind him and the safety on the left side on a post route from the slot. If the linebacker doesn’t hold Robinson, Trubisky has an easy read and a touchdown.
All of this being said, and I’ll get to the third positive takeaway from this play as well…
Trubisky cannot throw that football.
I don’t know if he just didn’t see the underneath defender or if he thought he could fit it in over his head, but he has to recognize when a read is not there. He’s done this multiple times, most memorably when he tried to force one to a covered Bradly Sowell against New England, and it has to stop. If it’s not there, it’s not there. Just take five yards on the ground or throw it out of the end zone.
The Overall Theme
What I noticed most from each of these three plays was how Trubisky’s offensive line acted when he started to escape. Each time, they continued to block, tried to wall off defenders, and we’re constantly looking for work as their quarterback was rolling out.
That’s a sign of a line who knows never to give up on a play and that even when the pocket is collapsing and the down seems dead, their signal-caller can always escape and find somebody downfield.
If Trubisky can get rid of the forced throws when outside the pocket from his repertoire, his legs can be a weapon in January.
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Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images. Pictured: Mitch Trubisky.