What’s wrong with Mitch Trubisky? He has yet to be compared favorably to Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback of all time, and there’s only one minicamp practice left before the Bears break until training camp.
I find this very disconcerting. It makes me wonder if everybody is ‘‘all in.’’ How is the team supposed to finish 16-0 this season with such a lack of belief in Trubisky’s excellence, superiority and paramountcy, which is an actual word, but don’t tell the Bears because they might use it while gushing over the poor guy?
So far, players and coaches have complimented him to within an inch of his life. There has been collateral sugar-shock damage to anyone within a mile of the kid. I barely can look at a bowl of ice cream.
The truth is that we don’t know how good Trubisky is or will be. When I say ‘‘we,’’ I mean ‘‘those of us abstaining from marathon games of Bear pong.’’’
He has a chance to be very good, but I never would think to compare him to Matt Ryan or Carson Wentz, as a few teammates have recently. Do you really want to compare him to a quarterback who has had seven consecutive seasons of 4,000-plus passing yards (Ryan) or a quarterback who put his team in position to win a Super Bowl in his second season in the league (Wentz)? That’s a lot to put on a 23-year-old quarterback who had a 77.5 passer rating in his rookie season.
‘‘I don’t listen to comparisons,’’ Trubisky said Wednesday.
That’s good news for anyone concerned that the Bears might be getting a bit ahead of themselves. If he can keep his head on straight while people around him are losing theirs, it’s an excellent sign.
Everybody at Halas Hall knows he’s the big dog. Everybody knows to be nice to the big dog. So receivers who want passes thrown their way praise Trubisky. Coaches praying for a long stay in Chicago praise Trubisky. Players who see coaches praising Trubisky and who know what’s good for them praise Trubisky.
I’d like to say I’ve never seen anything like this, but that wouldn’t be true. The Bears carried on the same way when Jay Cutler came to town. That’s not to say Trubisky is doomed to a career of ups-and-downs and frowns. But how about a little self-control, everybody?
I know: That’s not how the NFL works. Everything is speeded up. There’s no getting-to-know-you period between high draft picks and the teams that choose them. There’s no time for that. They get married, and everything is fabulous until the divorce. The Bears are hopelessly in love with their quarterback, and they want to shout it to the world.
Coaches think that if you say something often enough, it’s true. If coach Matt Nagy says Trubisky is great and everyone dutifully follows Nagy’s lead, then maybe Trubisky can be willed into being great.
If I were a player, I wouldn’t want a coach or a teammate proclaiming my greatness publicly before I was actually, you know, great. I think it adds unnecessary pressure. I’d think: ‘‘I haven’t accomplished anything yet, so why are they comparing me to quarterbacks who have accomplished a lot? I’m having trouble breathing right now.’’
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s approach is the right one. Here’s what he had to say recently about linebacker Roquan Smith, the team’s 2018 first-round pick:
‘‘Right now, he’s just trying to learn everything and he’s doing well at that, working hard at it. [But] he’s got to earn his stripes. He had a good-enough college career both on and off the field to get drafted where he was, and now he’s got to prove his worth. But he’s doing well.’’
Earn his stripes. Prove his worth.
Nothing is given. Everything is earned. I’m not sure when that went out of style, but it’s nice to see it dusted off and brought into the light. Maybe it’s catching on.
On Wednesday, Bears offensive tackle Charles Leno Jr. said Trubisky has excellent leadership qualities. What about his grasp of the new offense?
‘‘He’s still learning,’’ Leno said, adding that everyone is.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Trubisky is still learning? The most learned of all learners? That’s not going to cut it in the lavishing-praise department. Better to say that Trubisky came out of the womb wired to embrace Nagy’s offense. I love Leno for his moderation, but I’m not sure how the Bears as an organization will view such a grounded opinion.
A reporter asked Leno about Trubisky’s running ability. After expressing surprise and admiration about a few nifty runs Trubisky recently had, Leno said, ‘‘He can be a pretty good ball carrier.’’
Pretty good? Hit the ground and give Nagy 50 push-ups, Charles. And when you’re done thinking about the error of your ways, come back tomorrow with 20 synonyms for ‘‘great.’’
Sun-Times sports columnists Rick Morrissey and Rick Telander are co-hosts of a new podcast called “The Two Ricks: Unfiltered.” Don’t miss their candid, amusing takes on everything from professional teams tanking to overzealous sports parents and more. Download and subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts and Google Play, or via RSS feed.