It’s been three years since Bears defensive players nicknamed Mitch Trubisky the “pretty boy assassin” for how he played while quarterbacking the scout team during practice. Back then, it seemed like only a matter of time before the No. 2 overall pick would be starting.
Now, it’s not a matter of time before Trubisky starts again.
Or is it?
The most games Nick Foles has started in a season is 11, coming back in 2015 with the St. Louis Rams. Whether it’s been because of injury or circumstance, Foles hasn’t had the kind of longevity you’d expect from a 31-year-old named a 3-0 team’s starting quarterback going into Week 4.
So with 13 games left in the 2020 season, the odds seem high that the Bears will need Trubisky to start again at some point.
“We all understand what Mitch is going through, for sure,” quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo said. “There is no doubt in my mind that he will be the teammate that we want him to be, he wants to be, because that’s just the type of person Mitch is. I don’t think he knows any other way than to be a good person, at least in the time I’ve been around him.
"I have nothing but the utmost confidence in him that he’s gonna be a role model teammate for not only our offense but our team.”
It’d only be natural if Trubisky became detached in the coming weeks, though. Getting benched is hard for anyone; for a quarterback facing free agency in five months, it has to be even harder. Trubisky's football future is, all of a sudden, out of his hands.
And as we’ve talked to players and coaches this week, most have said they hadn’t spoken to Trubisky yet – or if they had, it was a brief chat. The more pressing thing for coaches and players is getting on the same page as Foles, not checking in on how Trubisky’s handling a very public recognition of his own failures.
But Trubisky also does not seem like the kind of guy who’s going to quit on the Bears, even if it might be natural to feel like they quit on him.
“He's a team first, ego second in terms of how he goes about even his job when he was the starting quarterback,” passing game coordinator and former quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone said. “There's no doubt in my mind that Mitchell's going to be a great resource in that room who is going to help Nick as much as Nick helped him. That's just the way Mitchell is wired.”
The Bears will need Trubisky to keep that same wiring in November and December. And he needs to keep it not only for his current team, but for his impending free agency.
If Trubisky stays engaged in the coming months, Nagy certainly will let other coaches know he did, which would boost his value as a backup when he hits free agency in March. And if he does get another opportunity to start, he always can still take advantage of it and put some good things on tape, too. Maybe good enough that he'll get a chance to compete to start somewhere else in the NFL in 2021.
So there’s still a lot at stake for Trubisky the rest of the season – even if the Bears don’t plan on going back to him again.
“Mitch was, to his credit, just an awesome supporter of Nick the rest of that (Falcons) game,” Nagy said. “He flat-out told Nick, ‘I’m going to have your back just like you’ve had mine’ from the start. I think that speaks to who he is, as well with him speaking to all you guys (the media) after the game, which he doesn’t have to do and he did it. I think that speaks volumes to Mitch and who he is as a person.
“We’re still going to support each other as we move forward here. We have a healthy quarterback room and we’re just looking forward to prepping here against the Colts.”