Bears

On Sunday, we saw what Mitch Trubisky needs to work on — and how good he can be

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USA TODAY

On Sunday, we saw what Mitch Trubisky needs to work on — and how good he can be

John Fox made a point earlier this month, saying if “you haven’t thrown a pick, you haven’t played.”

That was in reference to Mike Glennon’s disastrous preseason debut against the Denver Broncos. But what if we expand it to this, since Mitch Trubisky hasn’t thrown an interception yet: If you haven’t been yelled at to snap the ball, forcing a timeout, and then three plays later taken a delay of game penalty on fourth-and-1, you haven’t played. 

Trubisky had that sequence play out during his second series with the first team offense Sunday against the Tennessee Titans. On first and 10 from the Titans’ 48-yard line, Trubisky was scanning the field and getting his teammates set as the play clock bled to three seconds, leading to this being audibly heard on the Fox broadcast: “Go, Mitchell, go!”

The Bears called a timeout to avoid a delay of game penalty. After Trubisky slipped and fumbled for a five-yard loss, he was nearly picked off, then found Deonte Thompson for a 14-yard gain. Trubisky then committed a cardinal sin of playing quarterback: Taking a delay of game penalty on fourth-and-1. 

So what did Trubisky learn from those operational gaffes?

“Be a better communicator with Dowell (Loggains) and in the huddle,” Trubisky said. “Just always being aware of the play clock and the situation. And that’s something you always gotta work on, because you gotta know what the situation is and be in control of the game.” 

This is the area that, more than anything else, is holding Trubisky back from being the Bears’ starting quarterback. One of the first things Fox pointed out after Sunday’s game was Mike Glennon’s strength at the line of scrimmage — calling out protections, getting his teammates lined up, identifying defenses, etc. — which is notable given Trubisky’s inexperience with those duties at this level. 

“I think it’s just experience,” Fox said. “You’re talking about a rookie at a position in the National Football League — that’s pretty difficult. You have to be aware of a lot of things, the clock included.”

While Trubisky’s athleticism and pure quarterbacking talent have been apparent from the first pass he threw Aug. 10 against the Denver Broncos, this was an example of a rookie mistake made by someone still learning how to operate an NFL offense. 

“It’s just, things speed up for him and you just gotta be calm out there, understand the situation,” left tackle Charles Leno Jr. said. “It’s not like practice where the play clock can go to zero and you can still run a play. You gotta look at that clock. Little things like that that he’s gotta see.

"He’s still a rookie, man. He’s going to make those mistakes. We’re all supporting him, trying to build him up.”

This is a fixable issue, and one that may not hold Trubisky back for long. His picturesque 45-yard touchdown to Tanner Gentry on Sunday was a highlight-reel reminder of what the 2017 No. 2 overall pick can do, but even the less spectacular throws he made on Sunday had an air of impressiveness to them. 

And despite that sloppy start with the first-team offense — a three-and-out and then the possession with those clock issues — Trubisky still completed 10 of 15 passes for 128 yards and had a quarterback rating of 115.4. If he doesn’t play on Thursday against the Cleveland Browns, he’ll finish his preseason debut with the following stats: 34/48 (a 70.8 completion percentage), 354 yards, three touchdowns and a rating of 112.7. 

The latter half to the Fox quote about making mistakes is an emphasis on how a player responds to them. Trubisky responded well on Sunday, and can use those mistakes as a learning experience on which to grow -- and keep the pressure on Glennon to be the Bears' starting quarterback. 

"So far, so good," Trubisky said of his preseason. "(There's) always stuff to learn and improve from but that’s what the film is for. We’re going to study this film, get better this week, learn from our mistakes and continue to get better and grow as a team. Just keep doing the little things."

Bears Season in Review: Eddie Jackson

Bears Season in Review: Eddie Jackson

Bears safety Eddie Jackson didn't enjoy the kind of remarkable season in 2019 that he had in 2018, but he still played at a high enough level to be picked for the NFC's Pro Bowl squad and remains widely considered one of the best young defensive playmakers in the game.

He was paid like one this offseason, too, when GM Ryan Pace inked Jackson to a four-year, $58 million extension making him the highest-paid safety in NFL history.

Jackson finished 2019 with 60 tackles, two interceptions and a forced fumble but was blanked in the touchdown column after scoring three in 2018. His Pro Football Focus grade dropped significantly in 2019 to 66.9, the lowest of his three-year career and a far cry from the elite 93.2 he scored in 2018.

RELATED: Top 30 Free Agents of the 2020 NFL Offseason

Jackson's regression was just another example of an overall down year for a Bears team that has too much talent to be an 8-8 club. He didn't bring the same magic to the secondary that Bears fans have become accustomed to seeing, but now that he's been paid like one of the best players in the NFL, you can bet he'll be motivated to play at that level next fall.

It'll be interesting to see who lines up next to Jackson come Week 1. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency and it's highly unlikely Chicago will pay two safeties at the top of the position's market. After playing his whole career with Adrian Amos and Clinton-Dix, Jackson could be headed for a 2020 season paired with an underachieving veteran or unheralded rookie. He'll have to up his game.

Fortunately, the Bears don't have to worry about losing Jackson anytime soon. Even if 2018 was his career-year, Jackson's overall skill-set will keep him in the top-tier of safeties for as long as he's healthy and in his prime. 

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NFL Mock Draft: Bears get aggressive at QB in 2nd round

NFL Mock Draft: Bears get aggressive at QB in 2nd round

The Bears' 2020 NFL draft needs haven't changed since our last mock draft, but with the Senior Bowl in the books, there are several prospects whose stocks are on the rise while others are beginning to experience the dreaded pre-draft fall.

It's unfair to suggest that three days of on-field practices will tank the stock of a player like Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts, but his questionable performance did create more questions than answers about his ability to be an NFL starter. As a result, teams that may have pegged him as a strong Day-2 option for their quarterback depth chart have no choice but to dive deeper into other potential options at the position.

The Bears fall into that category, and in this mock draft, they swing at another young passer who could be a long-term answer under center if Trubisky fails.

Check out our updated seven-round mock draft:

Chicago Bears Post-Senior Bowl Mock Draft