LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- New Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich said on Thursday that similarities exist between the team's incumbent starting quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky, and Marcus Mariota, who won the Heisman Trophy while playing under Helfrich at Oregon in 2014.
“I see … a lot [of similarities between the two],” Helfrich told reporters. “Mitchell has a tight release. He’s an accurate passer. They also have a couple things similar that makes them inaccurate. Their feet take them out of position. I sense from talking to a couple of offensive linemen, and this was unsolicited, when your offensive linemen are talking about how hard your quarterback works, that’s a great sign. So he needs to do that and continue to challenge himself and improve.”
Mariota, who led the Tennessee Titans to the playoffs in 2017, is a true dual-threat quarterback.
The Bears believe Trubisky, who rushed for 248 yards and two touchdowns, barely scratched the surface in Year 1.
Enter Helfrich, whom first-year head coach Matt Nagy hired in part to help the offense think “out of the box” and to implement some of the “new-wave stuff” that is prevalent in the collegiate ranks.
Nagy, 39, will be calling his own plays on game days, but the Bears expect Helfrich to play a large role in Trubisky’s development.
“You talk about developing quarterbacks ... we're a team here that's [invested in helping] Mitchell,” Nagy said. “Anytime you get into this process, Coach Andy Reid has always taught me the value of being able to work off of your weaknesses and bring somebody in who can help strengthen your weaknesses and you can do the same for them. It was a perfect fit. Not just the run game and the things that they do off of that, but just knowing how to develop quarterbacks and handle quarterbacks. It's such an important position in this league and it's a delicate position that has to be done the right way. It was a slam dunk the second I knew he was interested and got to talk football with him and people skills, it was a no-brainer.”
Trubisky, who took over the Bears’ starting job in Week 5, finished the regular season completing 59.4 percent of his passes, with 2,193 passing yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Over his final five games, however, Trubisky (4-8 as a starter) completed more than 67 percent of his passes, which was fifth-best in the NFL in that stretch.
The rookie ended the season with a passer rating of 77.5.
“The biggest thing that jumped out to me as I watched him on film is he’s coachable and you can tell a quarterback is coachable watching his feet and his eyes,” Helfrich said. “And his eyes are deliberate. They’re going from one to two to three or I’m looking here, high-low on this guy, whatever it is, they’re deliberate.
“And the other thing that jumped out is his accuracy and taking care of the football. He had, I think it was a three-to-one or maybe even a four-to-one touchdown-to-interception ratio in college. That works. That’s a good thing. We need to continue that. “