BOURBONNAIS — Hold off on ordering the balloons and cake, folks. Mitch-a-palooza ain’t happening for a while.
Despite the Bears trading up for the No. 2 pick in this spring’s draft and using it to select Mitch Trubisky, the much-heralded quarterback out of North Carolina, Trubisky’s time as the Bears’ starting quarterback likely won’t be coming anytime soon.
The team has made it pretty clear that veterans Mike Glennon and Mark Sanchez stack up first and second, respectively, on the depth chart, meaning that barring significant injuries or a significant lack of production, Trubisky could very well not play at all during his first season in the NFL.
That’s fine with Trubisky, apparently, who spent the majority of his 10-minute media session after Saturday’s practice in Bourbonnais talking about things Ryan Pace, John Fox & Co. are probably happy to hear him talking about: his desire to get better, his desire to better understand the offense, his respect for his veteran teammates and his end goal of helping the team to win games.
So even if fans are already filling the grandstands in late July to get a glimpse of the Bears’ future at quarterback — with one fan going as far to sport a day-glow orange Trubisky jersey this week — they shouldn’t expect to get their wish for the No. 2 pick to supplant Glennon as the starter in 2017.
“I have to respect the plan that they have in place, and I have to believe in that. So that’s what I’m doing,” Trubisky said.” We have a great quarterback room. Mike, Mark and Connor (Shaw) have really been helping me with everything I need, mental side of the game as well as preparation and going into practice and just staying on top of the plays and all that. So for me, it’s just control what I can control, get better every day and believe in the plan that they have in place. It’s all about winning games for the Bears.
“They have a plan, we’ve just got to believe in it and execute it.”
Trubisky was believed to be the top quarterback in the draft at the very start of his only season as a starting quarterback at the college level. The Bears surprised by jumping up a slot to select Trubisky, but the rookie has already earned the support of many fans who would rather see him under center than Glennon.
But plenty of rolls got slowed Saturday, when Trubisky showed himself as a rookie with an ugly sequence of reps in practice, fumbling three snaps and bobbling another.
“It was frustrating because that was uncharacteristic of me. I've got to handle that,” Trubisky said. “They were just wasted plays, so I was kind of frustrated because I kind of wasted a team session right there and I didn’t allow myself or my teammates to get better.
“You’ve got to block that out, bounce back. The other quarterbacks and coach said something to me that allowed to get back in rhythm and play football. That’s the most critical part of the play, and I’ve got to take care of that.
“I think I just lost focus there for a period of time. And then I was starting to overthink it and just couldn’t get it. It’s all about bouncing back and continuing to get better throughout practice. I messed that up, but I also improved in other areas.”
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Three bad exchanges in the first practice in pads of Trubisky’s NFL career shouldn’t be cause for much alarm. But it did serve as a look into the development process. Few rookie quarterbacks arrive in the NFL a finished product, and Trubisky knows he’s got a lot more learning to do. His coaches know that. His teammates know that. Still, they’ve been impressed with how Trubisky’s jumped into that process.
“He’s learning a whole new offense and a whole different NFL coverage package where he’ll see a little more extensive types of coverages. The guy’s done everything he can,” Fox said. “He’s improving every day, he’s got a great work ethic, and he learns quickly and works hard. You can’t ask for much more.”
“He’s been on point. He’s had his ups and downs. Being a rookie, it’s hard to kind of get going in training camp, but he comes in every day prepared like a pro,” wide receiver Cameron Meredith said. “That’s good to see. He’s obviously going to get better, so we’re excited for that.”
Trubisky is using his first training camp to learn. That might not be what some folks want to hear, hoping instead to hear about the Bears’ rookie quarterback making highlight-reel passes all over the field and breathing down Glennon’s neck on the aforementioned depth chart. But the reality is that the Bears drafted Trubisky for the long term, for what they hope he can provide years down the road.
And so in the present day, Trubisky needs to figure out how to prepare for a season during which he might not see the field.
“I’m still figuring that out,” he said. “And that’s me watching guys like Mark, Mike and Connor, how they prepare, how they carry themselves at practice and really all the time. I’m still learning about that. For me, it’s all about trying to master the offense, having command in the huddle and at the line of scrimmage and using my natural abilities, as well. It’s just being patient, keep going out there and improving my game and taking care of the little things.
“As a competitor, you want to play in any situation, but you’ve just got to be aware of your situation and make the best out of it. You’ve got to believe that the people have a plan in pace and believe in that plan and go about your business.”
It sounds like Trubisky is handling the situation well. It remains to be seen how the fans and the media handle it once the season begins.