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Mitch Trubisky carries the ball against the Vikings on Nov. 18 at Soldier Field. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Trubisky eager to play vs. Vikings: ‘I always feel like I need to get better’

SHARE Trubisky eager to play vs. Vikings: ‘I always feel like I need to get better’
SHARE Trubisky eager to play vs. Vikings: ‘I always feel like I need to get better’

If the Bears were locked into the No. 3 seed in the NFC, without a shot at No. 2, quarterback Mitch Trubisky likely would be sitting against the Vikings on Sunday. But it seems as if he’d be begging to play.

Nobody in the Bears’ locker room sounded more happy about playing than Trubisky. It’s a near-perfect scenario for a quarterback at his stage of development: facing a playoff-caliber opponent with a top-10 defense that desperately needs to win — on the road in a dome that enhances the Vikings’ top-ranked pass rush.

Visiting quarterbacks have had an average passer rating of 78.5 against the Vikings this season, with five touchdown passes and seven interceptions. The Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium turned MVP candidate Drew Brees into a game manager — 18-for-23 for 120 yards, one touchdown, one interception and an 84.8 rating.

“I always want to play, so it’s easy for me to say,” Trubisky said. “I always feel like I need to get better, and I’m always eager for the opportunity to play this game that we’re privileged to [play]. I know that we’re playing this game to win. For me, it’s an easy mindset. Coach says, ‘Go,’ and we’re going.”

And the best part: Even if Trubisky falters, the Bears still will be in the playoffs — no worse than the No. 3 seed with their playoff opener at home. As long as he avoids injury, it will be a lesson worth the price.

“Every road game in the NFL is tough,” said Trubisky, who will be making his 26th career start. “It’s going to be a hostile environment, which we’re looking forward to. Some might say a playoff atmosphere, which is exciting for us.

“Just going in there creates a different type of challenge. The play clock usually runs a little faster; the crowd is a little bit louder, especially on third down and in critical situations. Execution, in and out of the huddle, has got to be down to a T. Got to be crisp on everything. Our communication has got to be on-point in the huddle and at the line. Operation has to be perfect, exactly where it needs to be.”

The rematch against the Vikings will be a measuring stick for the Bears’ offense, which has been merely OK against above-average defenses this season. The Vikings are the only defense the Bears have faced that ranks in the top 10 in both yards (third) and points allowed (fourth). Against the Vikings on Nov. 18 at Soldier Field, Trubisky completed 20 of 31 passes for 165 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions for a 61.9 rating in a 25-20 victory.

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It’ll be a big test for Trubisky, who has been veering a little too close to Rex Grossman territory for some. In 2006, Grossman went from a gunslinger compared to Brett Favre to a game manager compared to Kyle Orton. He averaged 8.6 yards per pass attempt in his first five games that season but 5.8 in the final seven. In the regular-season finale, Grossman’s 23rd career start, he threw three interceptions in the first half, including a pick-six, and was benched with a 0.0 rating in a 26-7 loss to the Packers. Though the Bears reached the Super Bowl, that was pretty much the end of Grossman with the Bears.

It’s unlikely Trubisky will follow the same career arc. With better feet, bigger hands and better mobility and escapability than Grossman, he figures to grow proportionately as coach Matt Nagy’s offense matures. But a quality performance against a top-flight defense would be much-needed evidence that he’ll eventually get there.

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