The Bears have spent all week trying to prepare Mitch Trubisky for the cacophony of his first road game.
“We bring a bunch of people from the city up here,” Kyle Long said, tongue firmly in cheek, “and they just scream at us from the sidelines.”
The Bears, in reality, blare crowd noise and music from speakers on the edge of their practice field. It’s not the same. Trubisky will learn that Sunday, when he takes the field in Baltimore.
“We just need to be even more crisp in our operation and our communication in the huddle and at the line of scrimmage and those types of things,” Trubisky said. “So we can be on the same page and execute clean.”
For the first time, he’ll use a silent count. From a shotgun formation, left guard Josh Sitton will look over his shoulder at Trubisky. When Trubisky is ready for the ball, Sitton will tap center Cody Whitehair, who will snap the ball.
Getting the ball back to Trubisky will be a challenge, given Whitehair’s recent snapping struggles, but so will more subtle timing elements. Trubisky must send players in motion and call for the snap at the right time. When he audibles at the line of scrimmage, he’ll have to ensure his teammates can hear him.
“The crowd always does mess with you,” coach John Fox said.
Particularly this one. Only the Broncos, whose stadium is notoriously riotous, have forced more opposing false starts at home than the Ravens’ seven.
“The last thing we want to do is shoot ourselves in the foot before we even get this damn thing started,” Long said. “Give him a chance to go make plays.”
Not many Bears rookies have.
Kyle Orton was sacked three times, threw an interception in the end zone and fumbled with less than two minutes left in his road debut in 2005.
The year before, Craig Krenzel went 8-for-21 for 144 yards and was sacked five times in his first road start. And before that, Rex Grossman went 6-for-10 for 60 yards in his road debut.
Since Jim McMahon premiered 35 years ago, five Bears quarterbacks — Cade McNown, Moses Moreno, Orton, Krenzel and Grossman — have started road games as a rookie. In their road debuts, they threw a grand total of one touchdown. They combined for six interceptions and were sacked 13 times.
Their average stat line: 10-for-22 for 108 yards and a passer rating of 72.08.
None, of course, has the pedigree of Trubisky.
There has been a palpable sense of excitement in the Bears’ locker room since his first start. Whitehair talked about the respect Trubisky has earned from his teammates, while defensive end Akiem Hicks said the team was buoyed by the energy he brought — “He makes electric plays,” he said — on Monday.
Still, the Ravens are undefeated in nine home games against rookie quarterbacks during coach John Harbaugh’s 10-year tenure.
“He’s worked really hard this week,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “Obviously, it’s a shorter week. We’re preparing against a really good defense that does a lot of different stuff. And a tough place that he’s never had to play in.”
Whitehair, who will be more responsible for Trubisky’s pre-snap performance than anyone else on the field, had simple advice for the rookie.
“Just stay calm,” he said. “As a young player, you get a little bit uptight, a little bit nervous.
“But he does a great job. He did a great job Monday night. Going on the road is always tough. So that’s what we’ve told him, is, ‘Stay calm and trust the process.’ ”
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