Guess they weren’t lying after all.
All year, the Bears have been telling us that Mitch Trubisky’s as even-keeled as they come. It’s about the only sound bite that comes up every Sunday, regardless of the outcome.
“It's confidence. Mitch is confident back there,” Taylor Gabriel said back in June. “So I feel like, like I said, it's just a drastic change from last year.”
Six months later, and Trubisky would have every reason, and then some, to be having a crisis of confidence. The Bears – then presumptive NFC favorites – kicked off the NFL’s 100th birthday party by scoring three points at home. He then sprained his shoulder in Week 4, ending the game in a sling on the sideline as he watched backup Chase Daniel once again look more comfortable operating the offense. Things got even WORSE when he came back, and the Bears’ historically-bad offense was booed early and often during their midseason four-game losing streak.
People called for Cam Newton, and Andy Dalton. People even called for Eli Manning! The city of Chicago 'Irish Goodbyed' the Bears’ franchise quarterback and it didn’t change him for a second. At least, not from where the head coach is sitting.
“You know, even within our team and our offense, you can go through some struggles,” Matt Nagy said on Wednesday. “And you feel that – and confidence is a part of that. Whether it’s individually how you’re playing, same thing.”
“I think the last several weeks we’ve been playing better on offense. All of our confidence is a little bit higher - a lot higher - than it was it was. The winning helps. So it’s not something where, we don’t sit here and talk about it all the time, to where we over communicate with that. We just kind of let things happen.”
So has there been any change in his demeanor, now that a thousand Daves from Winnetka aren’t constantly on-the-line yelling for his replacement?
“Not really, no,” added Nagy. “It hasn’t.”
“This is a great football town, tremendous football town. So there’s expectations,” quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone said. “There’s all those things that go with it. To be able to live through it since he’s been here, I think more than anything else it’s how you manage the pressure moving forward. It’s always going to be there.”
Ragone pointed to Trubisky’s knack for playing well late in the game, or in important moments, as the sign of a quarterback who has the skillset to make it as, as he calls it, a “Top Gun.” Trubisky will only be 25 when his 4th NFL training camp begins next July, and the Bears are thrilled with the leadership qualities they’ve seen from the 13th-youngest player on their roster.
“Obviously your play on the field is hugely important to you continuing to be the face of a franchise, but there’s a lot more that goes into playing quarterback in the National Football League than just throwing a slant route on time,” Ragone said. “And I think that, you have to experience by going through it. Hopefully you can grow into it, and I think you see as a kid who came in here when he was 22, and is now 25, he’s maturing not just as a player, but as a person …”
As for Trubisky himself, the quarterback mentioned that if this season has taught him anything, it’s how to better stay unaffected by the media narratives he was so infamously hearing around Halas Hall. Like, for instance, when Green Bay cornerback Tramon Williams talked about how the Packers’ plan to beat the Bears in Week 1 mainly involved “forcing [Trubisky] to play quarterback.” Trubisky was unspectacular (26-45, 228 yards) in that loss, and on Wednesday, if you can believe it, mostly (mostly) wasn’t biting on the Revenge Game narrative – just like the Bears like it.
“I got enough motivation from the outside, and I guess that’s even more motivation,” he said. “I didn’t hear that. I don’t really care.”
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