QB Mitch Trubisky is looking for a fresh start with the Pittsburgh Steelers this season to jump start his NFL career. As the former #2 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Trubisky was expected to become the face of the franchise for the Chicago Bears after starting only one season at North Carolina. The young rookie notably had a tough time developing into the player the team envisioned he would be after being thrust into action early his rookie year to supplant incumbent Mike Glennon, having to learn on the fly rather than getting the opportunity to learn at his own pace.
Despite taking the Bears to the playoffs in his second season and being named to the Pro Bowl, the franchise was not sold on Trubisky as their long-term answer, trading for Nick Foles prior to the start of the 2020 campaign and having him take the reins from Trubisky for seven starts that season, leaving Trubisky in a state of uncertainty heading into free agency after Chicago elected to not pick up his fifth-year option.
Trubisky ended up signing with the Buffalo Bills as a free agent for the 2021 season, where he would be the clear backup to All-Pro QB Josh Allen. While he didn’t have any chance to become the starter during his time in Buffalo, Trubisky recently spoke with Albert Breer, calling his time there a freeing experience.
“I would say I process quicker now,” he told Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. I know where I want to go with the ball,” he said. “I’m able to just trust my abilities and play a lot more free, not just go where the coach wants me to go with the football. I think it was a lot along the lines of just having a trust and being on the same page as the offensive coordinator. I felt like being in Buffalo, the quarterback had a lot more free rein to go where he wanted with the reads and go where he wanted with the ball, as opposed to Chicago.”
Trubisky compared his time in Chicago playing with the Bears as if his was playing inside of a box, not being allowed the creativity and freedom as he was confined to running the offense as called by either HC Matt Nagy, OC Bill Lazor, or former OC Mark Helfrich. Having that many voices in your ear telling you how to exactly run the play without deviating off those specifications creates rigidity which can be good in some instances but can be detrimental in others. Considering that football is a spontaneous sport where the situation can change in an instant, the inability to call your own audible as the leader of the offense can feel like you are tying one hand behind your own back.
Thus, seeing how OC Brian Daboll allowed Josh Allen to operate in the offense and give him that freedom to create off-script and use his talents to create impressive plays.
“The difference between my experience in Chicago and what I saw in Buffalo is they allow Josh to go out there and play his game,” Trubisky continued. “In Chicago, they wanted me to play the coaches’ game. Call it whatever you will, that’s just how it felt to me. That was my experience, from what I saw in Chicago to what I saw in Buffalo.”
It’s important to have structure in professional football. There’s no doubt about it. You need to be able to execute as a precision passer and hit your intended target on time, giving him a chance to not only complete the reception, but also the opportunity to pick up yards after the catch and avoid putting him into a head-on collision with a defender. Trubisky understands this, but he also understands that an offense needs to be fluid to adjust to what the opposing defense is giving him on that particular play. This was something that Chicago didn’t allow him to do based on his recount, but Buffalo showed him he can do to best utilize the skill set he brings to the table.
That is why Trubisky decided to join the Steelers as a free agent this offseason. He was told that he would have the opportunity to compete for the starting job and that he wouldn’t be confined to a box as he would have the opportunity to play loose and free, not having to worry about every incompletion affecting his chances of winning the starting job. Trubisky said as much to start training camp, and Mike Tomlin confirmed those sentiments in a conversation with Breer.
“I want him to play and have fun,” Tomlin said to Breer regarding Trubisky. “We hadn’t talked a lot about his experiences prior to getting here, because really in terms of what we’re doing it’s irrelevant. But I assume he’s experienced some negativity and so forth, and so I just want him to have fun. I want him to play fast and free. I don’t want to work with him overly concerned, thinking about making mistakes and things of that nature.”