The Fox Effect
What is that old saying? You can take the boy out of the country but you cannot take the country out of the boy. You can take the Fox away from the quarterback but you cannot take the Fox out of the quarterback? Yeah, that was awkward to say, but I am in hopes you know what I mean. Coach John Fox had Mitchell Trubisky during Trubisky's rookie year. How much of that conservative approach still lingers in the second year quarterback? From the get-go, Fox was slow to use the quarterback from North Carolina. No matter how obvious it was that a rookie quarterback was better than the 16 million dollars Glennon, Fox was not going to deviate from his plan. So it was not until game 4 of the season that Trubisky got his debut. It was not a rush to judgment.
When Trubisky was finally allowed to play, he had the Fox restraint upon him. It was that way all year. One thing that could be gain is that Mitchell was exposed to the speed of the game but he was also exposed to the "take no risk mentality?" Poor Jordan Howard had to suffer from 8 to 9 men in the box because teams knew there would be very few shots taken downfield. That made sense from a defensive perspective because last year, the Bears had few receivers who able to get off the blocks clean and get separation in their routes. How much of last year is still with Mitch Trubisky?
Earlier in the pre-season, we saw Trubisky throw an interception. It was a pass intended for his running back Tarik Cohen. Looking at the tape, he was livid with Tarik Cohen for not coming back at the ball. Quarterbacks do have a reasonable expectation for receivers to finish their routes and not cut them off early or take shortcuts. Honestly, it is a "live and learn thing." Didn't coach Matt Nagy preach, it is okay to make mistakes one time but the expectation is to learn from them and not make them again?
There are a lot of factors that go into making a decision. Past experiences would be a big determinant of what to do. The interception can be logged into Trubisky's thinking but how does it weigh against the whole year of teaching that came from Dowell Loggains? Can Mitch trust Tarik? I think he demonstrated that he can trust Tarik when he is running out of the backfield to catch a pass. We have seen that one happen. But can he trust Tarik when he is lined up as a receiver and runs a route? I bring this up because while watching the game against the Packers, there was a play where Trubisky did not pull the trigger when Tarik was open. Chris Collinsworth noted that there are many things that go through the quarterbacks' mind when he is in the middle of a play. I am not sure if Collinsworth knew, that Tarik cut off a route once on Mitch.
One thing you better believe, when you are coached, those coaches voice are in your head during game time. You can be in the midst of pursuing a ball in the air, and that voice is screaming at you, to get to the ball or you better keep your eye on the ball. That is part of the many factors that go into decision making.
I am going to guess by some of the tapes, I have seen that Fox or Loggains is still a part of Mitch's processing. Yes, Nagy is there also, but when things get heated, people often reflect back to the most prominent teaching they have had. While Nagy is the active one in Trubisky's decision making, I wonder if Fox sneaks in there once in a while?
Going back again to the Green Bay game, I did not see this at first nor did I read about it. The Bears had a 7-0 lead, and they were on the 4-yard line with 3rd down. When I was able to watch the "coaches cut" that is video from above the play where you are able to get a bird's eye perspective. Trey Burton lined up as a tight end on the left end of the line, he slipped through, You can see Trey get open, while Mitch was going through his progressions. Mitch started to the right side, and made his way to the centre of the end-zone, there was a wide-open Trey Burton, but Mitch did not pull the trigger. Now please, do not take this as criticism of the Bears quarterback, because if you do, you miss the whole point. I thought there was time for Mitch to pull the trigger, but I am watching from slow motion and overhead. I do believe that Mitch may have seen an open Burton, but he may have been processing, that Burton was in the middle of the field, and who knows if anyone was coming from the opposite direction. It would be easy for me to say, "throw it" but Mitch is dealing with Fox's voice screaming, "don't throw an interception."
In time, Nagy's voice will take over but the ultimate goal is for Mitch's voice to be heard. He has to process the nuance of this offence and the game. That is what Nagy is for, to teach him the game, then he has to become his own man and that takes time. With the defence that the Bears have, maybe it is better, that he didn't throw to Burton. His inner self will emerge.