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.