Chicago Bears notes: Wentz's Year 2 growth can help provide blueprint for Trubisky

Bears like progress of Trubisky, who has endured similar rookie struggles as Wentz

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Mitch Trubisky and Carson Wentz have more in common than sharing an agent, draft slot and unique dual-threat ability behind center.

The Bears' rookie quarterback, whom they traded up to No. 2 overall in April to draft, is 1-4 in one-score games this season and pilots the NFL's 27th-ranked third-down offense.

Wentz, the second overall pick in 2016, thanks to an even bolder trade by the Eagles all the way up from No. 13, was 1-6 in one-score games as a rookie quarterbacking the 20th-ranked third-down offense. Now Wentz is merely the favorite for league MVP honors and leads the NFL's only nine-win club.

"Quarterbacks take those huge jumps from Year 1 to Year 2, and when you watch Wentz, he doesn't play like a young player anymore,” Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said of the man his team will face Sunday in Philadelphia.

(photo: Sandy Bressner - sbressner@shawmedia.com)

Indeed, Wentz rapidly has ascended to become as efficient on third downs and as dynamic overall as any quarterback in the game. He leads the league with 25 passing touchdowns and markedly has increased his yards per attempt (6.2 to 7.6) and passer rating (79.3 to 103.4) while cutting his turnovers by more than half (17 to 7). So what changed?

“His supporting cast,” Bears coach John Fox said. “They've added some different guys. We talked about [former Bears receiver] Alshon [Jeffery]. I think the last time we played them [tight end Zach] Ertz was not healthy, so he's having a productive season.

Last season, Wentz had perhaps the NFL's worst receiving corps, which has improved immensely with Eagles general manager Howie Roseman's offseason signings of Jeffery and Torrey Smith – and the internal growth of Ertz and slot receiver Nelson Agholor.

It's no secret one of Bears GM Ryan Pace's top objectives this offseason will be overhauling the wideout corps for Trubisky, who has completed more passes to his backs and tight ends (45) than receivers (34).

Yet just as Wentz provided bright rookie flashes – albeit more early than late as he started immediately, unlike Trubisky – the Bears' rookie progress, Chicago hopes, hints at a potential seismic sophomore leap.

Loggains alluded to Trubisky's finish Sunday, when he rebounded from a difficult third quarter by leading a 78-yard game-tying touchdown drive then positioning the Bears to force overtime, if not for Connor Barth's final missed field goal in a Bears uniform.

“For us, with Mitchell, it's, 'Hey, you did what you needed to do in that two-minute drill to take us down and get us in position.' So the growth that way, those one-possession games, he's going to be the reason why we win those games.”

(photo: Mark Busch - mbusch@shawmedia.com)

Two to tango: After struggling under the franchise tag last season, Jeffery fled Chicago to sign a one-year deal in Philadelphia, where he has developed into Wentz's favorite target and one of the Eagles' top go-to big-play targets. Asked Wednesday whether the Bears deserve blame for letting a homegrown playmaker get away from a club devoid of them, Fox quickly reminded that the Bears tried to re-sign Jeffery and that it takes two sides to get a deal done – credence to the rumblings Jeffery sought a fresh start.

“Hindsight is always 20/20,” Fox said. “That's pretty much known. He's a guy we liked. We did talk to him. It's not like we were not in the mix. A lot of times they have decisions in that, as well.”

Injuries: Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd is “more than likely” headed for injured reserve after friendly fire with teammate Kyle Fuller on Sunday led to a knee injury and Floyd departing on a cart.

If there has been a more consistent defender than Floyd this season, it's Akiem Hicks, who missed Wednesday's practice with his own knee ailment. LB Danny Trevathan, who has been inactive the past two games, remained out with a calf injury, while Dion Sims (illness) and Dontrelle Inman (groin) were among the limited participants.

(photo: Sandy Bressner - sbressner@shawmedia.com)

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