Bears need Mitch Trubisky to learn from the last time he returned from an injury

Bears need Mitch Trubisky to learn from the last time he returned from an injury

Mitch Trubisky returned from a two-week absence only to play the worst game of his career last December, throwing three interceptions against the Los Angeles Rams with a passer rating of 33.3. 

Trubisky later admitted he was too amped up for that game, which came after the Bears held him out due to an injury to his throwing shoulder. So what’ll be different this time around, with Trubisky on track to play Sunday against the New Orleans Saints after another two-week absence?

Well, beyond this year’s injury occurring on his non-throwing shoulder. Trubisky said he hoped to come back into that game in Week 4 during which he dislocated his shoulder, since it was his left one, not his right one. 

Still, the Bears don’t want Trubisky to play with any tentativeness, and coach Matt Nagy said he won’t limit his third-year quarterback when he returns. If scrambles are there, Nagy wants Trubisky to take them without thinking about his injured shoulder or the harness he expects to wear on Sunday. 

“If he’s able to play, then he plays,” Nagy said. “… You can’t tell somebody to play a game and not get hit. You can’t do it. If you’re okay to play a game, then you’re okay to get hit.”

So the larger issue here for the Bears will be managing Trubisky’s emotions, especially as he returns following three uneven and disappointing games to begin his season. This is a guy who’s averaging 5.6 yards per attempt and hasn’t thrown a touchdown in 12 of the 13 quarters in which he’s played, after all. 

“He’s a year older, right, so the maturity steps and understanding hey, do your job,” quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone said. “And I think that is obviously what we all learn, myself included, seeing those signs from him and making sure emotionally that he’s in check and all those other things. I think it’ll help us moving forward, especially what he’s going through right now.”

That “do your job” message is particularly prescient given one of Trubisky’s self-described issues in that Rams game last year was trying to do too much. But the Bears also need Trubisky to play a little looser, specifically with pushing the ball downfield and trusting his receivers to make plays (as Chase Daniel, to his credit, did). 

Trubisky said Wednesday he was disappointed to not be able to build on what he did Week 3 against Washington, which he felt was a spark for him and the Bears’ offense. 

“You kinda felt like that was a turning point for me and this offense to hopefully jumpstart into the Vikings game, and then kinda moving the ball down the field and then six plays into it you come out,” Trubisky said. “It’s definitely frustrating, but you just go back to how I prepared mentally to go into that Washington game and try to get right back on with that mindset and come out here and practice with the guys and fly around and just go out there and do my job. 

“It is a big part of the mental game, and you’ve just gotta prepare mentally to go out there and do your job and be in the right mindset to make plays for your team.”

So that sounds like a quarterback who learned his lesson from what happened last December in his return from an injury against the Rams. 

But like everything else with Trubisky right now, talk is one thing and actual production on gameday is another. 

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Four players Ryan Pace should target to fix the Bears

Four players Ryan Pace should target to fix the Bears

The Chicago Bears have a 1 percent chance to make the playoffs in 2019 after falling to 4-6 following Sunday night's 17-7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. As a result, it's time to start looking ahead to 2020 and the necessary moves GM Ryan Pace must make in order to take advantage of the Bears' already championship-worthy defense.

Pace will face some obvious challenges in the offseason, most notably the salary cap where the Bears won't have much flexibility. According to Spotrac, Chicago will be in the bottom-five teams in the league in cap space which will make shopping in free agency a limited endeavor. 

But as we've seen many times in the NFL, creative general managers can move money around in ways to free up the dollars for new contracts to make sense, and it's on Pace to make sure he does that in order to land at least two big-ticket free agents to fix two of this team's most pressing needs.

The NFL draft will also provide Pace with a great opportunity to add young, starting-quality talent in the second round. The Bears will end up with two of this year's top-60(ish) players and they have to make those picks count.

Here are four players Pace should target in order to turn the 2020 Bears into the contender they were supposed to be this season.

Sign QB Teddy Bridgewater (Saints)

Bridgewater would be the perfect target for Pace and the Bears in free agency to bring stability and reliability to the quarterback position. The former first-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings has resurrected his career after a devastating knee injury in 2016. Now three seasons removed, Bridgewater proved he's ready to take on a starting job after playing five games in relief of Drew Brees after the future Hall-of-Famer suffered a hand injury.

Bridgewater won all five starts and completed nearly 68 percent of his passes along the way. He racked up 281 yards and two touchdowns in Week 7 against the Bears and displayed the kind of accuracy and decision-making that Matt Nagy's offense calls for.

The Bears won't be the only suitors for Bridgewater's services, but the appeal of starting in Chicago with a defense that's proven it can win games on its own will at least be enticing for the former Lousiville star.

Sign TE Austin Hooper (Falcons)

Hooper will command a contract similar to what Chicago paid Trey Burton in 2018 (four years, $32 million), so it will be hard to justify tying up that much money in the tight end position. But as 2019 has proven, there's no way for Nagy's offense to reach its potential without a weapon at tight end in the passing game.

Hooper missed Week 11 with an MCL injury and could be on the shelf for a few more weeks, but he's been one of the league's better playmakers at tight end this season. He has 56 catches for 608 yards and six touchdowns and has shown steady improvement over each year of his career. He had 71 catches for 660 yards and four scores in 2018.

Draft OT Prince Tega Wanogho (Auburn) in 2nd round

It'll take a little bit of luck for 'Prince' to fall to the Bears' first of two second-round picks, which right now sits at No. 46 overall. But the Bears have to be aggressive in upgrading the offensive line this offseason. While Charles Leno, Jr. and Bobby Massie are serviceable offensive tackles, a player like Tega Wanogho has the kind of traits that could eventually develop into a top-tier starter on either side of the offensive line.

The Bears could decide to prioritize the interior of the offensive line in the draft, and that's fine. But the best (and cheapest) way to land a high-end offensive tackle is through the draft, and Pace has to swing for the fences on a pick like this in 2020.

Draft EDGE Yetur Gross Matos (Penn State) in 2nd round

Pass rushers like Gross Matos are often pushed up the draft board because of the premium placed on the position, but with several teams expected to take a quarterback in the first round and with the number of ridiculously talented wide receivers in the 2020 class, a player like Gross Matos could suffer a bit of a fall.

Gross Matos has six sacks so far this season, which is a respectable total but has fallen a tad short of expectations entering the year. He had eight sacks in 2018 and was a popular pick to explode as a sack artist this fall. Still, he has the athletic profile Pace loves in his pass rushers and would be an instant upgrade over Leonard Floyd, who's failed to live up to his first-round billing since joining the Bears in 2016.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: What happens with Mitch Trubisky going forward?


Sports Talk Live Podcast: What happens with Mitch Trubisky going forward?

Hub Arkush, JJ Stankevitz, and Ben Finfer join the birthday boy on today's show.

0:00 - Sunday's debacle in L.A. continues to dominate headlines. So what happens with Mitch Trubisky going forward? Is Matt Nagy's offense fixable? And how did a team that was one of the favorites for the Super Bowl fall apart this quickly?

16:00 - Jeremy Roenick joins Kap to talk about Kirby Dach's hot streak and if the Jeremy Colliton saved his job by making one tweak to his scheme.

24:00 - Dave Wannstedt joins Kap to discuss the fallout from Sunday's Bears loss to the Rams. How would Wanny handle Eddy Pineiro's confidence? Plus he talks about how to keep a team motivated with the playoff hopes essentially gone.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast