MINNEAPOLIS — Bears rookie Mitch Trubisky had nowhere to run after having nowhere to throw late in the second quarter Sunday against the Vikings. The result was another teachable moment.
The question is, after John Fox was fired Monday morning, who will be teaching Trubisky from now on?
The Vikings’ 23-10 victory against the Bears didn’t reveal much about Trubisky’s development. He faced one of the best defenses in the league on the road, behind a makeshift offensive line, and still had no one to throw to.
Trubisky’s backhanded pitch out of the Bears’ end zone in the second quarter was a last-ditch effort to avoid a sack by defensive tackle Linval Joseph. It resulted in a safety.
Trubisky said he thought he had his check-down option in that direction, but there only were beaten offensive linemen in the vicinity. Running back Jordan Howard ran the other way. It was a bad mistake made by an inexperienced quarterback.
If Trubisky looked overmatched against the Vikings, it’s because the Bears were, especially with reserves Hroniss Grasu, Tom Compton and Bradley Sowell on the line. Trubisky’s best plays were his throws to receiver Dontrelle Inman (five catches on 10 targets, 94 yards).
But all that mattered was that Trubisky departed Minneapolis physically unscathed. He is the future — and the Bears’ best selling point for their next coach.
‘‘I’m still finding things that I can get better at each week,’’ said Trubisky, who completed 20 of 36 passes for 178 yards and a 69.0 passer rating to conclude his rookie season. ‘‘This week, even though it’s the offseason, I’m going to study red zone even more to figure out how I can improve. You always find out in each game what you did well and what you need to work on. I’m going to go back through all the games and continue to look at those things.’’
The red zone was fresh in Trubisky’s mind because the Bears had two drives end on the Vikings’ 6- and 2-yard lines in the fourth quarter.
‘‘Part of that falls on me,’’ Trubisky said. ‘‘I’ve just got to be prepared and study even more for the red zone, so I can play faster.’’
Trubisky is a driven young player, one who won over his veteran teammates with his work habits and demeanor. He also makes the Bears’ looming coaching search significantly different from the ones that resulted in the hirings of John Fox (14-34 in three seasons) and Marc Trestman (13-19 in two). Trubisky still embodies hope; he just requires the right coach.
Opinions varied about Trubisky’s potential before the draft, but the Bears weren’t the only team that coveted him. Other general managers, scouts, coaches and coordinators viewed him as the best quarterback, too.
But will GM Ryan Pace find a coach who genuinely felt the same way about Trubisky coming out of North Carolina? Candidates certainly will have to sell Pace on their vision for Trubisky, so it would help if they had one before sitting down with him.
The Bears won’t rule out candidates with defensive backgrounds or even special-teams coordinators, but everything revolves around Trubisky. Pace believes in him, and his candidate list will feature coaches whose offensive philosophies he believes in, too.
Trubisky’s statistics in his 12 starts are comparable to what Carson Wentz did in 16 starts for the Eagles as a rookie last season. They include passer rating (77.5-79.3), interception rate (2.1-2.3), completion percentage (59.4-62.4), touchdown rate (2.1-2.6) and yards per pass attempt (6.6-6.2).
In other words, the next coach will have something to build on. It’s on Pace to find the right one.
‘‘I feel good,’’ Trubisky said. ‘‘I just got more comfortable as the weeks went on to play my game and be a leader on this team.’’
Follow me on Twitter @adamjahns.