Maybe it’s a pattern. With only one college season comprising 13 starts, Mitch Trubisky convinced the Bears and GM Ryan Pace to hitch their fortunes to him in the form of trading up to ensure getting him in the 2017 draft.
Now, with less than one full NFL season – 12 starts in 2017 – Trubisky has done some more convincing and in the process helped reverse a disturbing, damaging trend in some quarters of the NFL.
Over the past couple offseasons, more than one NFL veteran spurned the Bears in favor of less money elsewhere. And not just on offense or defense: Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery saw little future with the quarterback situation in Chicago and turned down offers to stay, while cornerbacks A.J. Bouye and Stephon Gilmore were among defenders who opted for smaller paydays elsewhere than the Bears were believed to be offering.
This offseason the quarterback situation in Chicago – Trubisky – has had the opposite effect, that of attracting talent instead of repelling it.
“I think if guys came here to win, then yeah, the quarterback should definitely be the first thing that you look at,” said cornerback Prince Amukamara, who chose to re-sign with the Bears after his one-year, prove-it contract of 2017. “Mitch was definitely one of mine. I think the guys that we got here do want to win. When you look at Taylor [Gabriel, former Atlanta wide receiver], look at A-Rob [Allen Robinson], I think those guys are really not putting a lot of pressure on Mitch but just hoping Mitch can probably get them to their second or third contract or help them get their first ring.”
Said Robinson: “That's what I came here for. I came here to make those plays, to make those catches, to make his job easy.”
Trubisky’s body of NFL work, like his limited starter’s résumé at North Carolina, can reasonably be questioned, if for reasons of quantity alone.
But the Bears were a plus-7 turnover ratio during his 12 starts last year. Trubisky’s interception percentage of 2.1 was better than the rookie pick-rates of Jared Goff, Marcus Mariota, Deshaun Watson, Carson Wentz and Jameis Winston, using other recent high draft choices for purposes of comparison.
That sort of thing impresses defenses, including one’s own, in this case a Bears defense ranked among the NFL’s top 10 and which nicknamed Trubisky “Pretty Boy Assassin.”
“I want to win a championship and I think having Mitch here, I think that’s always the start,” Amukamara said. "The quarterback’s always the start and just having Mitch and seeing his improvement and his effort.
“I’m sure some people saw, but even when Mitch was the back-up, Mitch was staying after practice and always working hard and you love seeing that in a quarterback, especially a back-up. I’ve always just saw greatness in him ever since then. I think this year he gets to really show it.”