The Bears expect Mitchell Trubisky’s future stat lines to look a lot better than the one he put up Monday night against the Minnesota Vikings: 12/25, 128 yards, one touchdown, one interception.
Trubisky struggled against a solid Vikings defense in a 20-17 loss at Soldier Field, but how he struggled is important: It wasn’t because the moment was too big for him, or because he had decision-making issues while going through his progressions. His accuracy waned at times, and his fourth quarter interception — which handed the Vikings the win — stemmed from an aggressive attempt to make a play. These weren’t the same mistakes Mike Glennon made in September.
After the game, Trubisky’s teammates shouldered the blame for the Bears' fourth loss in five games and praised how he played in his NFL debut. The Bears committed eight penalties and too frequently put the No. 2 overall pick in some difficult situations.
“You can’t have a young quarterback, first game out there on Monday night football, you just can’t put him in positions like that,” wide receiver Kendall Wright said. “We gotta play football how we know how to play. We can’t have penalties. Penalties beat you every time.”
Beyond the penalties, there was a lack of execution on first down that had a negative ripple effect. Of the Bears’ 20 second down plays, 11 came with seven or more yards to gain; half of their 12 third down snaps came with 10 or more yards to go.
“We can’t shoot ourselves in the foot,” Long said. “We need to stay ahead of the sticks, put ourselves in second and manageable, and when we do get third down, (have) conversions and explosive plays, touchdowns.”
Trubisky shouldn’t be absolved of blame, of course. He started the game strong, completing seven of his first nine passes in the first quarter, but only completed five of 16 passes over the final 45 minutes. Trubisky said he should’ve checked down before bolting the pocket or thrown the ball away on that pass Harrison Smith picked off and took ownership of his mistake.
“I just forced one,” Trubisky said. “Can’t do that, can’t put my team in that situation.”
Trubisky’s teammates, though, had his back even on his most egregious mishap of the night.
“He was telling everybody it was his fault, but we can’t put him in those positions,” Wright said. “We had plenty of opportunities to win that game before that last minute or however long it was. We had plenty of chances in that game to win it early on.”
Added tight end Zach Miller, the intended target on Trubisky’s interception: “That’s Mitch being a baller and trying to make a play.”
Trubisky’s playmaking ability has been clear to his teammates since he stepped foot on to the practice fields at Halas Hall and Olivet Nazarene University. These players know what he’s capable of doing, even if it didn’t always show up on Monday. The way they talked in such positive terms about a quarterback who completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes in a loss was telling.
So while Trubisky wasn’t a “magic wand” who could erase the imperfections that plague this team, he was — to use a different metaphor — a spark for the Bears. And the guys around him are confident he'll continue to be that spark going forward.
“He carries himself as a leader,” Wright said. “I definitely think he’ll bounce back. He’s the type of guy, if he could, he’ll go try to do something extra right now, but unfortunately he can’t. But just gotta go watch the film and be better. Everybody has to be better. It’s not one person, it’s not one person on the team. Everybody has to be better in every position.”
And we’ll give Miller the last word: “I think he did everything he could for us to win that game. I’m excited for his future because he’s a baller.”