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Friday, June 18, 2021

New Faces: How Mitchell Trubisky Fits into the Buffalo Bills’ Plans in 2021

Written by John Sparaco

Among the most fascinating moves by the Buffalo Bills this offseason would have to be the addition of QB Mitchell Trubisky, who is just four years removed from being the second overall pick in the NFL Draft. Things did not necessarily go as planned in Chicago, as the Bears went all in on trading up for the North Carolina product, only to watch quarterbacks drafted after him find infinitely more success. 

The beginning of Trubisky’s career has not been ideal, yet it cannot be labeled a complete failure. In 50 career starts, Trubisky had led the Bears to a winning record of 29-21, even making a playoff appearance in 2018. So, what went wrong in Chicago? Well, during his four seasons with the Bears, Trubisky was never able to elevate his production to the level expected from a player selected at his draft position. There was reason for optimism following his second season, as Trubisky’s TD/INT ratio steadily improved from 1:1 to 2:1. Additionally, his completion percentage jumped up seven percent from his rookie campaign, indicating much more efficiency as an offense. Trubisky’s sophomore campaign remains his best at the NFL level, leaving no surprise that it ended up being the one season he led the Bears to the playoffs.

However, things never quite progressed from there as Trubisky’s production began to stagnate. While the quarterbacks drafted after him, Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, flashed brilliant plays on a weekly basis, Trubisky struggled to consistently drive the offense downfield. Trubisky finished his third season with only 17 touchdown passes in 15 games, prompting Chicago to bring in some competition at the position. Once Nick Foles arrived in 2020, neither QB was able to take a permanent hold of the starting job, splitting starts on their way to another disappointing 8-8 season. After watching the QB they passed on, Patrick Mahomes, advance to his second Super Bowl appearance, the Bears decided to move on from their young QB.

At 26 years old, Trubisky decided to make his second stop an unconventional one for a player of his caliber. Instead of joining another struggling franchise with a legitimate chance at winning the starting job, Trubisky decided to take less money to join an organization fresh off an AFC Championship appearance with a young franchise QB already clearly established, Josh Allen. 

While it will not be a chance to start, this is a good opportunity for Trubisky to reset. Now placed in one of the strongest offensive systems in the NFL, Trubisky gets to sit back and learn from the same coaching staff that helped develop Allen from one of the draft’s rawest prospects to one of the league’s most dominant forces. This chapter is not expected to be long term as all signs point towards Trubisky leaving Buffalo for a chance to start elsewhere once his contract expires after this season.

In the meantime, Trubisky possesses plenty of traits that make him an ideal fit in Buffalo’s offense. Everyone knows that Allen is just as much of a threat as a runner as he is throwing the ball, which is what makes him such a nightmare to defend. In the past few seasons, Buffalo has turned to Matt Barkley as their backup whenever Allen had to come off the field. While the Bills appreciate everything Barkley did for the franchise, putting him in the game severely limited what the team was able to execute offensively. Due to the fact that Barkley was not a threat at all in terms of mobility, Buffalo had to completely alter their offense that catered to Allen’s strengths whenever Barkley took over. 

Unlike Barkley, Trubisky has shown that he has wheels in his own right, breaking out multiple 40+ yard runs in the past four seasons. So far, Trubisky has rushed for 1,057 yards and eight touchdowns during his career, proving that he is more than capable as a runner. Now, with Trubisky as their backup, Buffalo can keep their playbook wide open. 

Though the Bills certainly hope Trubisky does not have to see the field in any situation other than when leading by a significant margin at the end of games, he does give the Bills a nice security blanket if needed. Trubisky has proven that he can win at the NFL level, and in Buffalo, he should be considered one of the best backups in the entire league. Should Trubisky see the field at all in 2021, he will benefit from being surrounded by the most talent he has ever played with. It would not be shocking at all if Trubisky flourishes in whatever opportunities he receives this season. Paired with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, there is a strong possibility Trubisky follows him wherever he presumably lands a head coaching gig in 2022 to compete for the starting job, especially if the two end up clicking together. Overall, Buffalo should feel very comfortable with their quarterback situation this season knowing that they have someone with starting pedigree waiting in the wings behind their franchise guy.

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