Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky took the NFL by surprise in 2018. It was initially believed that the Bears made a mistake in selecting Trubisky second overall in 2017 because of three reasons; the Bears gave up maybe too many assets to move up one spot to the No. 2 pick, Trubisky was only a starter for one season at North Carolina in a spread offense, and Trubisky wound up having a somewhat average rookie year (4-8 record, 2,193 passing yards, 7 TDs, 7 INTs, 77.5 passer rating). Granted Trubisky's rookie year was during the John Fox era in which the Bears barely averaged 20 points per game. Enter Matt Nagy.
Nagy left his offensive coordinator position in Kansas City to become the head coach of the Bears after Fox was fired and the turnaround was immediate. Trubisky adapted very quickly to Nagy's quarterback-friendly playbook. As a result, Trubisky enjoyed a breakthrough season as Chicago won its first division title since 2010. He finished 14th in the league in completion percentage (66.6), 15th in touchdown passes (24), 20th in passing yards (3,223), 18th in yards per attempt (7.43), and 16th in passer rating (95.4).
Trubisky still has room for growth (he needs to cut down on the 12 interceptions he threw last season, for example), but for the most part he appears to be a good fit in Nagy's offense thanks to his ability to make accurate throws, get rid of the ball quickly, and make things happen with his legs (he had 421 rushing yards and three TDs on the ground). The Bears' season ended in disappointing fashion, but this still appears to be a team headed in the right direction. Whether they remain a contender in the NFC will largely depend on Trubisky's development, as both a quarterback and team leader. The early indications are that he has put in the work this offseason in both the film and weight room.
The results that truly matter, however, are the ones that happen on the field once the season starts anew. Here are a few reasons why Trubisky could take yet another step forward in 2019.
Matt Nagy is still calling the plays
The biggest reason why Nagy was hired to coach the Bears in 2018 is because of his reputation as a "quarterback whisperer," and the fact that he tailors his offense to fit the players on his roster. And Nagy will continue to make adjustments as Trubisky increases his knowledge of the playbook. But as long as Nagy is running the show from the sideline, Trubisky will be in good hands and therefore should have another successful year.
Trubisky has had another offseason to absorb knowledge
Last offseason Trubisky's mission was to learn the basics of the offense and form a relationship with his new head coach. Now the plan is to add more wrinkles to the offense, acclimate the newcomers to the playbook, then give defenses more than they can handle and prepare for on game days. And as we saw last year, putting all of that together wasn't a problem. Providing that Trubisky stays healthy, what he learns this offseason will go a long way towards his success on the field come September.
The talent around Trubisky
Wide receiver Allen Robinson has recovered from the nagging injuries that caused him to miss three games last year. His fellow receiver, Anthony Miller, has healed from a problematic shoulder, while tight end Trey Burton (sports hernia surgery) will be back in time for training camp. The offensive line is fully intact, and the Bears have a new group of running backs that they believe will operate Nagy's offense better. Those backs are Pro Bowler Tarik Cohen, free-agent acquisition Mike Davis, and rookie David Montgomery.
The Bears also drafted an intriguing, yet raw wide receiver in Riley Ridley and signed the versatile Cordarrelle Patterson in free agency, giving Nagy plenty of toys to tinker with in the offseason and training camp. And of course, the offense will be supported by one of the league's top defenses. So Trubisky certainly appears to have all the pieces needed to continue on his upward trajectory in 2019.
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.