Through two games, Patrick Mahomes is lighting it up in Kansas City.
The second-year quarterback from Texas Tech has thrown 13 touchdowns through his team’s first three games, and has set a new NFL record. Kansas City has taken down the Chargers, Steelers, and 49ers: three teams perceived to be playoff contenders by many, and sit at 3-0. Many are raving about the sheer offensive capabilities the Chiefs have, with Patrick Mahomes being the center of the praise.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears sit at 2-1, with wins against the Seahawks and the Cardinals, and a heartbreaking loss at Green Bay. The Bears are atop the NFC North division. The quarterback play of Chicago has been solid, but by no metrics as good as that in Kansas City.
To further compare the two quarterbacks, Mahomes has thrown for 896 yards this season with a 66.7% completion percentage. Mahomes also has not thrown an interception. Trubisky has thrown for 591 yards with a completion percentage of 69.2%. He has also thrown for two touchdowns, rushed for another, and has thrown three interceptions.
In hindsight, one might wonder what the Bears were thinking in the 2017 draft, trading up one spot to draft Trubisky, rather than take Mahomes. And while on paper (and the field) Mahomes looks to be the better young quarterback, There are reasons as to why it is far too early to make that assumption.
Patrick Mahomes was drafted knowing that he wouldn’t be the Week 1 starter in 2017. He was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs, already a solidified playoff contender and a proven team. Additionally, he has been coached by Andy Reid, a so-called “quarterback whisperer” by many. Reid has spent years in the NFL succeeding alongside proven quarterbacks like Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, and Alex Smith. So it is no surprise that Mahomes has seen success early in his career. Another interesting side note: Mahomes’ offensive coordinator last season was Matt Nagy, the current coach for Chicago. Nagy gave Mahomes a full season of his teaching and has not spent that amount of time with Mitchell Trubisky.
Meanwhile, Trubisky was rushed into the starting role early last season on a team that was nowhere near being considered a playoff contender. Many believed Trubisky wasn’t ready to be a starter at such a young point in his career, and his numbers reflected that.
Trubisky threw for seven touchdowns and seven interceptions, posting rather underwhelming numbers for a second overall pick. Still, Trubisky has shown on-field flashes of greatness: eluding would-be tacklers and finding open players on multiple occasions.
It should be noted that Trubisky was coached by the defensive-minded John Fox in 2017, and most of the Bears’ staff was not retained going into this season.
By hiring a new staff centered around the offense, Chicago has shown forward thinking. Hiring a young offensive guru as a head coach seems to be a popular trend as of right now, and Chicago’s hire of 40-year-old Matt Nagy followed this trend.
Time will decide whether or not Trubisky will be able to flourish under the Bears new offensive-minded staff. By the end of this season, we will be able to see if Chicago’s new system allows Trubisky to become a reliable starter for the Bears, which would allow a comparison to be made between the two play-callers.
As both Trubisky and Mahomes are in only their second seasons in the NFL, amount of college experience is still relevant in this discussion. Mahomes started 29 total games for Texas Tech over the course of three seasons from 2014-2016. Meanwhile, Trubisky notoriously only started 13 games in his college career, one of his biggest “red flags” heading into the 2017 draft.
Simply put, Mahomes has more experience in dealing with top-level defenses than Mitchell Trubisky. As time goes on, however, the experience will level out for both quarterbacks, rendering this point ineffective. But as of right now, in year two, college experience is a reason why comparing Mahomes and Trubisky is still unfair.
3. Surrounding Weapons
While the Bears have made great strides towards bolstering their offensive personnel, one could argue that no team has the offensive firepower to compete in a shootout with Kansas City. Tyreek Hill seems to be evolving into an All-Pro receiver, along with the young receiving back Kareem Hunt. The offseason acquisition of Sammy Watkins has also provided depth at the wideout position for the Chiefs. Finally, while the Chiefs don’t have Gronk at tight end, they have the next best thing in Travis Kelce. The offensive personnel in Kansas City is extremely dynamic, allowing the potential for most average to above-average quarterbacks to post monster numbers.
Since most have pointed towards Trubisky’s numbers in 2017 to judge how good of a quarterback he is, it should be noted that wide receiver production in Chicago was near the bottom of the league in 2017. His best wideout was Kendall Wright, a WR3 at best if in Kansas City. Trubisky’s seemingly had zero options to throw to last season, which could be a reason for his rather underwhelming numbers.
The Bears have made major strides in improving their receiving corps this season, so lack of receiving options will be no excuse for poor quarterback play from Trubisky in 2018 and in the future.
As unpopular as it is in the sports journalism industry, making a quick and defiant claim that drafting Trubisky over Mahomes was a mistake is just plain wrong. Many quarterbacks take years to fully develop into their true form, and it is likely that both Trubisky and Mahomes are still int he developmental process.
Now that is not to say that Mahomes is or is not better than Trubisky, but it would be wrong to judge the value of a young quarterback with years of opportunity ahead of them after just a handful of games.
Last season, Mitchell Trubisky was in a far worse situation than Patrick Mahomes. His lack of experience and offensive weapons paired with boring and uncreative coaching led him to post unsatisfying numbers for a second overall pick.
This season is different. Both quarterbacks are under the tutelage of offensive-minded coaches and have a plethora of help on offense. Through three games, Mahomes looks better than Trubisky, but the season is a long one. Comparing Patrick Mahomes and Mitchell Trubisky is not fair until enough time passes in which both quarterbacks have had similar opportunities.
Now that these quarterbacks are presented with this similar opportunity, waiting until the conclusion of this season to judge the Bears and the Chiefs’ respective 2017 first round picks would be appropriate.