Offensive football was at its peak on Sunday as Mitch Trubisky and Jeff Driskel turned a combined 69 pass attempts into 442 yards in a sloppy, checkdown-filled 20-13 Bears win at Soldier Field. Matthew Stafford missed his first game since 2010 and was replaced by former University of Florida and Louisiana Tech QB Jeff Driskel, who ran a much more conservative gameplan than the Lions normally use due to his limitations with arm strength and accuracy. As soon as Stafford was announced inactive for this game it was over, and the Lions now find themselves at a crossroads as shutting down their best player and looking towards the draft seems like a real possibility. Since I focused so much on QB play, specifically Trubisky’s, in my preview, I’ll do a quick recap of the game by looking at the QB performances.
Having experience in 5 games as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals last year, Driskel made his first start as a Detroit Lion and immediately looked to be the polar opposite of Matthew Stafford. Running a 4.56 40-yard dash, Driskel is incredibly athletic for a quarterback and is a more legitimate rushing threat than Stafford. That’s the one thing Driskel has on Stafford. Although he played a surprisingly solid game in his first start, the Lions offense is so limited with Driskel at QB compared to Stafford. Driskel spent most of the day throwing quick passes on 3-step drops and when he did throw the ball more than 10 yards downfield, it was often into wide open windows. An example of Driskel’s checkdown infatuation on Sunday was running back JD McKissic’s stat line of 6 catches for 19 yards. Driskel did look much more confident in the 4th quarter when the Lions were forced to open up the playbook down 14, and he threw a backyard football 45-yard touchdown pass on the run to Kenny Golladay to score the Lions’ only touchdown of the game. Driskel is talented and poised enough to be a fine backup in the NFL, and should Stafford miss extended time he would be the perfect Tank Commander for the Lions.
While I did give Trubisky a lot of flak for his performance throughout this season in my preview, I acknowledged that due to the Lions sieve of a defense, Trubisky has the chance to air the ball out effectively this week. That he did, to an extent, as Trubisky had his best outing of the season since Week 3 against the Redskins and threw 3 TDs against the Lions for the second straight year. Trubisky only threw for 173 yards, but he threw some of his prettiest passes of the season, including a nicely placed ball on a 24-yard corner route to Taylor Gabriel for a touchdown in the beginning of the 2nd half. With few incompletions, Trubisky had his way with the Lions defense when he was able to get the pass off, but his lack of poise still prevented the Bears offense from truly breaking out. Trubisky was sacked 5 times by a struggling Lions defensive line in this game, and a majority came on 4-man rushes where Trubisky held the ball for too long and was too flat-footed to avoid the rush, step up in the pocket and get the pass off. Trubisky’s footwork is what concerns me the most going forward against better defenses, and I believe it is the reason he can be such an erratic passer. Trubisky tends to back pedal on his dropbacks instead of shuffling, and he has been spotted with his feet horizontal to receivers for passes instead of vertical, something he did much less of last year and something that Matt Nagy has identified as his main concern about Mitch. Trubisky’s ability to improve on this imperative detail in the art of quarterbacking will decide whether or not he can continue to be an NFL starter.