Bears running back Tarik Cohen was just playing around — but also wasn’t — when he decided to respond to one of quarterback Mitch Trubisky’s most notable critics on social media.
“I just like having fun on Twitter,” Cohen said Wednesday. “I knew it was going to get a lot of retweets and likes, so I just did it. And Mitch is my boy — you feel me? That’s like my brother on the team. So, I mean, I’m going to protect my brother.”
Cohen was talking about his tweet Tuesday — “Watch how you talkin bout my QB boy” — directed at Michael Lombardi, a former scout and personnel executive for several NFL teams and the Browns’ general manager for the 2013 season.
Lombardi, who currently writes for The Athletic — ripped Trubisky earlier this week on the “Follow the Money” podcast from the Vegas Stats and Information Network.
“No, I’m not buying Mitchell Trubisky,” Lombardi said on the podcast. “You couldn’t get me to buy Mitchell Trubisky if you had him on a discount rack at Filene’s Basement. There’s no chance. There’s no chance. He can’t throw the ball in bounds half the time. I mean, it’s a joke.
“I was in Chicago this week, and all I saw was Trubisky jerseys, and I’m thinking, ‘You people are crazy. You’re going to be selling them in three years.’ There’s no way.”
Lombardi’s remarks are part of a recent onslaught of criticism against Trubisky, most of it coming from national writers. In a Nov. 1 article projecting 2020 rosters, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell wrote, “Trubisky hasn’t shown enough to guarantee that he’ll be on the roster come 2020, although the Blake Bortles of the [NFC] North still has plenty of time to grow.”
There certainly are facets of Trubisky’s play worth criticizing. He has missed throws the Bears expect him to make, and several defenders have dropped would-be interceptions off him.
But incendiary comments from Barnwell, Lombardi and others have infuriated a Bears fan base still trying to move on from the Jay Cutler era.
“It’s definitely unfair,” Cohen said.
Still, it comes with the territory.
“Any time you’re drafted as a quarterback early and high in the draft, you’re always going to be critiqued,” coach Matt Nagy said. “But again, the only thing [Trubisky] needs to worry about is what I think about him and what people in [Halas Hall] think about him.”
And Nagy sees progress. The Bears also are 5-3. The good should outweigh the bad at this point.
“I don’t hear any of the outside noise, whether it be positive or negative,” Trubisky said. “My focus is elsewhere within football and my family and everything else I’ve got going on. It hasn’t been a distraction for me. Most of it last year had been negative, so it’s just a lot of negativity that I blocked out of my life.”
Trubisky’s numbers — 1,949 passing yards for 16 touchdowns and a 96.1 passer rating — might be inflated by screens, shovel passes and blown coverages, but the same is true for other quarterbacks. That includes the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, with running back Kareem Hunt and receiver Tyreek Hill pulling off highlight-reel touchdowns this season.
The Bears also have faced four teams that rank in the top 10 in opposing quarterback passer rating: the Seahawks (fourth), Jets (fifth), Patriots (seventh) and Dolphins (eighth). Even the lowly Cardinals rank 13th in that category after eight games this season.
Earlier this week, Pro Football Focus ranked Trubisky as its No. 29 starter — behind the Cardinals’ Josh Rosen, the Dolphins’ Brock Osweiler, the Broncos’ Case Keenum and others. Meanwhile, somehow, ESPN’s metric for grading quarterbacks — total QBR — has Trubisky as seventh in the league.
It’s no wonder Trubisky stays off social media. But Cohen and others have his back.
“I don’t know if he knows about [the criticism] at all,” Cohen said. “But I’ve seen it, so I’m going to say something about it because I’m a real one, if you feel me, and I ain’t going to let nobody just sneak-diss my boy like that.”