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Brad Biggs: The Mitch Trubisky divide: National pundits rip the Bears QB, while the team raves about him

Chicago Tribune — By Brad Biggs Chicago Tribune

Nov. 08-- It's possible that in one and a half seasons Mitch Trubisky has become a more polarizing figure than Jay Cutler ever was in eight years.

Scoff if you like, but it's not a chasm, it's a canyon between what the team is saying at Halas Hall, what sycophants eager to document each step of progress are saying and what national pundits are saying about Trubisky, especially in the past week with the Bears (5-3) coming off two straight victories and in first place in the NFC North.

Just when you think things are going all right, it turns out it's a complete disaster. At least that is the national perspective. The same week his coach said he should be judged by his win/loss record-a stance that got Phil Emery in trouble after he gave Cutler a massive contract extension-those far away from the team's headquarters are bludgeoning Trubisky.

Trubisky is fortunate he announced at the start of training camp that he has sworn off social media because while coach Matt Nagy goes into detail to describe the quarterback's progress halfway through the season and some champion his elite leadership skills, people from a distance don't get the Trubisky love.

"You couldn't get me to buy Mitchell Trubisky if you had him on a discount rack at Filene's Basement," former NFL general manager Michael Lombardi said Monday on "Follow the Money," a VSiN show on SiriusXM. "There's no chance. He can't throw the ball in bounds half the time.

"It's a joke. I was in Chicago this week and all I saw were Trubisky jerseys. And I'm thinking, 'You people are crazy. You're going to be selling them in three years.' There's no way. Look, he's a good athlete. He runs around, he makes some plays with his feet, but when he has to make precise throws ... Brett Favre said this one time, and I think it really applies. Bad quarterbacks can throw the ball through a door. Good quarterbacks can hit the door knob. The great ones throw it through the keyhole. Do you think Trubisky can throw the ball through a keyhole? There's no chance, right. I just don't see it."

Last week, in a midseason quarterback index on NFL.com, Trubisky was ranked 26th behind Joe Flacco, Dak Prescott, Case Keenum, Jameis Winston and Blake Bortles.

"He's the most divisive quarterback in football, at least according to the stats," Gregg Rosenthal wrote on NFL.com. "ESPN's QBR has him ranked seventh overall and his fantasy stats are undeniably large. (Football Outsiders') DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) has him 20th, while the graders at Pro Football Focus have him ranked as the worst pure passer in football by a wide margin. My rank is closer to PFF's because of all the interceptions he has lucked out of thanks to drops by defenders, and all the open receivers that he has missed."

On ESPN.com, Bill Barnwell questioned Trubisky's staying power with the Bears, writing "Trubisky hasn't shown enough to guarantee that he will be on the roster come 2020, although the Blake Bortles of the North still has plenty of time to grow."

In Pro Football Focus' ranking of quarterbacks entering Week 10, Trubisky is 29th out of 30 and on CBS' Pick Six Podcast, Brady Quinn questioned the Bears' playoff hopes saying, "I haven't seen enough growth from Mitchell Trubisky. I don't think you can look at their running game as overall consistent. They kind of live and die by Mitchell Trubisky, and he's too inconsistent for me."

Simply looking at the numbers, Trubisky is closer to the middle of the pack:

64.2 completion percentage-22nd

7.50 yards per attempt-16th

2.7 percent interception ratio-22nd

1,949 yards-19th

96.2 passer rating-16th

There's a reason people use the expression out-of-town stupid, but in Trubisky's situation it's difficult to understand the national versus local perspective. Could it be as simple as the Bears haven't won in a very long time? Is it possible your eyes deceive you? His numbers are similar to those of Cam Newton, who is said to be back to MVP form. Newton has done it at different times and against different teams, but their passing statistics-completion percentage, yards, touchdowns, interceptions and rating-are all close, and Newton has rushed for only 40 more yards and two more touchdowns than Trubisky.

Trubisky is a dropped interception away from winning in Green Bay in the opener, which would give the Bears the same record as Newton's 6-2 Panthers.

More opinions on Trubisky are coming soon. The Bears will be in the national spotlight in Week 11 when they are host to the Vikings in prime time on NBC and then five days later when they play the Lions in Detroit on Thanksgiving.

Part of the problem is Trubisky loses in any measurement to Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who was selected eight picks later than Trubisky in the 2017 draft. You can make a case that the Texans' Deshaun Watson, selected two spots behind Mahomes, also has been better than Trubisky.

Unlike Mahomes and Watson, Trubisky is in his second offense in two years, but the explanations are not being heard nationally. National observers see some of the passes that sail high and wide of targets and fire away. And there have been plenty of those lately as Trubisky has completed only 54.5 percent of his passes over the last three games, which Nagy attributed to the quality of the defenses.

"Anytime you are drafted as a quarterback early and high in the draft, you're always going to be critiqued," Nagy said Wednesday. "The only thing he needs to worry about is what I think about him and what people in this building think about him. Everybody's entitled to their opinion and that's OK, that's fine, there's nothing wrong with that. But as long as he just understands that the only thing that matters is what we think, nothing will affect him."

Fortunately, Trubisky maintains that he hasn't heard what the detractors, those on the other side of the canyon, are saying.

"I've been off social media," he said. "I don't really check it that often and I don't really have it on my phone. So I don't hear any of the outside noise, whether it be positive or negative. I just have a lot more time, and my focus is elsewhere within football and my family and everything else I have going on. It hasn't been a distraction for me. Most of it last year had been negative, so it's just a lot of negativity that I blocked out of my life. I'm able to just focus on what I need to do and who I want to be as a player and as a person. It has been a good thing for me just getting off that."

It's fair to say Trubisky hasn't done anything to change the minds of folks, whichever side of the aisle they're on when it comes to him. We'll see if that changes in the second half of the season. Even if Trubisky is tuning it out, we're sure to hear more.

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