In the Patriots’ two losses, the opposing quarterback outplayed Tom Brady. Is Mitchell Trubisky up to the task?
By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
There’s a commonality to the Patriots’ two losses this season. The opposing quarterbacks played better than Tom Brady.
Blake Bortles had literally one of the best games of his career in Week 2 for the Jacksonville Jaguars, carving up the Patriots for 376 yards and four touchdowns. He did throw an interception, but the damage had largely been done with the Jags holding a 24-13 lead at that point. Brady followed that Bortles interception up with a lost fumble just three plays later.
Matthew Stafford made things worse in Week 3, when he severely outpaced Brady with a 101.9 passer rating to a putrid 65.1 for No. 12. Stafford led the Lions to 13 unanswered points in the second half of their 26-10 win over the Patriots.
Contrast these two games, which both came on the road, to how the likes of Deshaun Watson and Ryan Tannehill played against the Pats in Foxboro. It was ugly. Tannehill was particularly atrocious, going 11-for-20 and posting an I-didn’t-know-it-could-be-that-bad 47.9 passer rating. Even when Tannehill had chances to make some throws to open receivers, the football sailed all over the place, often before bouncing harmlessly to the turf.
Add it all up, and the Patriots’ wins this season have come in large part to a massive disparity in quarterback play. The Patriots’ opposing passer rating in their four wins has been 80.8.
In their two losses? A much healthier 106.9.
Match Brady, and you’ll give the Patriots serious trouble.
The Pats are 3-1 this season when Brady posts a better passer rating than the QB on the other side. The one outlier is last Sunday’s 43-40 win over the Chiefs, in which Patrick Mahomes (110.0) barely edged out Brady’s 109.2. So if the Bears want to upset the Patriots, they’re simply going to need a superlative performance out of their own franchise quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky.
Physically, the Patriots have a test on their hands with Trubisky, a threat with both his arm and his legs.
“He’s a very athletic guy that can run,” said head coach Bill Belichick on Trubisky during his Wednesday press conference. “He chews up a lot of yards when he scrambles, if he needs to scramble. He can scramble to extend plays, but he can scramble to run.”
Trubisky enters Sunday on what one may call a hot streak. He’s posted an outrageous 143.3 passer rating in his last two games, mainly on the strength of a six-touchdown performance against the Buccaneers. He took the inevitable step back last Sunday in an overtime win over the Dolphins, but he still threw for another 316 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. He’s been very efficient, completing 71.9 percent of his passes in the past two weeks. Overall, he’s seventh in the NFL with a 105.6 passer rating and fourth with a 70.2 completion percentage.
“He’s playing great ball,” said Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore. “His arm is real strong. A lot of passes I saw on film that he threw, not too many quarterbacks can throw those balls. And also he’s got talent around him, so they make him even better.”
There will be a lot written about the Bears’ offensive weapons, and for good reason. They also boast a formidable defense headlined by Khalil Mack, also a very important topic. But ultimately, it really could come down to whether Trubisky delivers when the opportunities arise. Tannehill and Watson, especially, came up woefully short despite having some chances to make plays.
Even with trouble, Brady can be trusted to score when he needs to. Can Trubisky keep pace like Mahomes did? Can he elevate himself like Bortles did? Can he capitalize on big play opportunities like Stafford did?
If the Pats emerge from Soldier Field with a win, it’s likely that Trubisky will have come up short. And the Patriots’ success would continue to be tied to the performance of the quarterbacks in the opposing jerseys.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at email@example.com.