Bears

'Punky QB' meets 'Pretty Boy Assassin' on quarterbacks panel for Bears 100 Celebration weekend

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

'Punky QB' meets 'Pretty Boy Assassin' on quarterbacks panel for Bears 100 Celebration weekend

Mentoring comes in an untold number of forms. So it was on Saturday, when two of the most charismatic Bears quarterbacks of the past four decades came together Saturday for a “Legacy Quarterbacks” panel session as part of the “Bears 100 Celebration” at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont.

Jim McMahon, legendary quarterback of the 1985 Super Bowl XX champions, began his get-together with Mitchell Trubisky, moderated by Bears announcers Jeff Joniak and Tom Thayer, by surprising the younger quarterback with a pair of sunglasses and a headband that Trubisky immediately donned for the entire hour-long panel.

“Step one,” said Trubisky, nicknamed “Pretty Boy Assassin” his rookie season by his defensive teammates.

“Now you’re ready to go,” said McMahon, whose “Punky QB” ID from the “Super Bowl Shuffle” has endured.

The two first-round picks (McMahon was No. 5 overall in 1982, Trubisky No. 2 overall in 2017) arrived with doubters. McMahon recalled being judged as too small, lacking good vision (he suffered an eye injury as a child, hence the sunglasses) and someone telling him, “Maybe you should go to Canada.”

Trubisky was targeted and traded up for by Bears general manager Ryan Pace after just one season/13 starts at North Carolina.

But what surfaced early in both careers was a flair for the job, that job being to energize and lead their teams. Both brought a touch of panache’ to their early dealings with team management. McMahon emerged from first ride to Halas Hall with a beer in progress. When Trubisky was tasked with making arrangements for a secret dinner in Chapel Hill with Bears top brass during their evaluation of him at North Carolina, he made the reservations of “James McMahon.”

“I think they liked that,” Trubisky said, smiling.

The two established early on that they played with a touch of abandon with their own bodies. Among highlights shown during the panel were of Trubisky scrambling for a touchdown run and coaches have expressed a desire that he learn to avoid taking so many hits. McMahon’s career was dotted/shortened by injuries and he started an average of fewer than nine games in his seven Bears seasons.

“I played the only way I knew how,” McMahon said, adding, “I was playing hurt when I got here.”

Among the photos flashed during the discussion was one of Trubisky studying the Lombardi Trophy that McMahon’s 1985 Bears won. Trubisky was clear about that trophy and his own team: “It’s within reach.”

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Bears injury report: Trubisky full practice participant "feels a lot better"

Bears injury report: Trubisky full practice participant "feels a lot better"

The Bears have released their injury report from Wednesday's practice ahead of Week 12’s contest against the New York Giants and there’s (finally) some good news. Well, there is good news if you want Mitch Trubisky to be under center for the Bears.

Trubisky was a full participant in practice today following a hip injury that removed him from the Bears Week 11 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

This news comes after Matt Nagy’s insistence that if Trubisky is healthy, he will remain the Bears starting QB.

“We want him to be out there today at practice, we want him to be out there this week as our starter,” Nagy said of Trubisky earlier this week during a press conference.

It looks like Nagy will have his starting QB back in action this Sunday. Trubisky told reporters at Halas Hall today that he "feels a lot better." 

Other changes on the injured list: offensive lineman Bobby Massie was a full practice participant today after suffering a back injury. Tight end Adam Shaheen didn’t practice due to a foot injury. He has been on the injured list since Thursday of Week 11. Danny Trevathan didn’t practice due to an elbow injury he received during the Bears' game against the Lions in Week 10. Isaiah Irving was a limited participant after being on the injured list since Week 9 due to a quad injury. 

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The Bears are not benching Mitch Trubisky: 'We want him to be out there this week'

The Bears are not benching Mitch Trubisky: 'We want him to be out there this week'

Mitch Trubisky was a full participant in the Bears’ practice Wednesday at Halas Hall, putting the 2017 No. 2 overall pick on track to start Sunday against the New York Giants a week after being removed late in his team’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams with a hip pointer. 

Trubisky said he feels “a lot better” a few days after suffering that injury, and he expects to play Sunday against the Giants so long as he doesn't suffer any setbacks this week. His full participation in Wednesday’s practice, again, indicates he will not miss a start with the injury. 

Nagy, too, reiterated Trubisky is his starting quarterback so long as he’s healthy. 

“We want him to be out there this week as the starter,” Nagy said. “I’m hoping that’s the case. … These types of injuries, you get to a point where they are literally day to day and it becomes about where you’re at with the pain and how we manage that.”

Trubisky’s injury status Thursday and Friday will be closely monitored for a setback, though it’s possible the Bears designate him as questionable for Sunday no matter what. The Bears did just that in October, when Trubisky practiced in full the entire week leading up to their game against the New Orleans Saints but was officially listed questionable. 

Nagy, though, does not appear to be considering benching Trubisky for any performance-based reasons. The Bears’ coach has stood firmly behind Trubisky in his press conferences since taking him out of Sunday night’s game, and on Wednesday went out of his way to praise his starting quarterback’s recent growth. 

“The last two weeks, and I’m speaking in particular for Mitch, he has without a doubt gotten a lot better at the quarterback position,” Nagy said. “Decision-making, throws – where he’s at the last two weeks has been a lot better.”

When pressed for a specific instance of Trubisky playing better, Nagy pointed to a 12-yard check-down throw to Allen Robinson on what was supposed to be a shot play against the Detroit Lions in Week 10 (on it, Taylor Gabriel was well covered downfield). 

But 10 games into his third year in the league, when Nagy has consistently preached a touchdown-to-checkdown mentality to his quarterback, just how significant is the improvements made by Trubisky to make that throw? Trubisky is still last among qualified quarterbacks with an average of 5.6 yards per pass attempt, and ranks near the bottom of the league in completion percentage (23rd), touchdowns (26th), passer rating (26th) and QBR (30th). 

And the Bears’ offense remains one of the worst in the league, too, sitting in the same ignominious realm as Jets/Bengals/Dolphins/Washington in nearly every offensive category. This is a team that’s made 20-point, 300-yard games feel like monumental efforts, when in reality those should be routine for a team with a top-picked quarterback and offensive-minded coach. 

So how much does steady, incremental progress over two games matter 11 weeks into a season in which Trubisky’s experienced rapid, significant regression? The things Nagy and Trubisky are still talking about — the game slowing down, making good decisions, etc. — are the same things talked about in training camp this year, or throughout the course of 2018 and 2017. 

We’ll see over the course of the final six games of 2019, though, if Trubisky can dig himself out of the hole he and this offense, collectively, have dug this season. Because Trubisky is the Bears’ starting quarterback, and it does not appear that his hip injury will change that on Sunday and beyond. 

“I feel confident going out there and being able to do my job,” Trubisky said. “We're still just not clicking on some plays as an offense and I feel like that's holding us back. But each week it's getting a little bit better, it's slowing down, I love the game plans we're doing each and every single week. We just got to make it happen as an offense, and it just comes down to — I know it sounds really simple — we just got to score more points.”

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