Bears QB Mitch Trubisky fights mounting pressure amid ‘real lull’ in performance
There hasn’t been much good from Trubisky in what was supposed to be a breakout season. His struggles have taken a toll on him, and his play is getting more difficult for Matt Nagy to defend.
Quarterback Mitch Trubisky’s unceasing struggles have worn him down — so much so that coach Matt Nagy made an unusual suggestion.
Rather than simply watch the scouting film of the Bears’ 17-16 loss to the Chargers, which is shot from a distance and used to analyze formations and player movement, Nagy told Trubisky to watch the TV broadcast, as well. With a million camera angles, close-ups and a high-definition picture, Trubisky got to see his demeanor.
“That told me a lot about myself,” Trubisky said. “It was weird watching it because I really didn’t feel like it was me. It was kind of a shell of myself. I’m going to get back to really leading in a way that I know how.”
Sullen disposition and poor performance are inextricably linked, though. It’s going to be virtually impossible for Trubisky to be upbeat and spur teammates if he keeps playing this poorly.
It also has become increasingly difficult for Nagy to defend his quarterback’s play.
He has remained steadfastly committed to Trubisky, but there’s a limit to how much cover he can provide without being disingenuous. Nagy has been more transparent about Trubisky’s shortcomings recently but never makes him the scapegoat.
The Chargers game began slipping away from the Bears with Trubisky’s interception and lost fumble in the fourth quarter. He has an 81.9 passer rating over his last two games, and that number was boosted by garbage-time touchdown passes against the Saints.
There hasn’t been much to shout about from Trubisky in what was supposed to be a breakout season. And as the team tracks well below championship expectations, he’s bearing the brunt of the backlash.
“He’s at a point right now where it’s been a lull,” Nagy said. “It’s been a real lull for him. He understands that. I don’t think that’s anything out of the ordinary, emotionally, to know.
“A lot of times in that position, what do we all do? You put pressure on yourself because you want to do as great as you can, and when the success isn’t there, then everything goes to that position. Right or wrong, that’s just what happens.”
If the “lull” continues, however, the case to give backup Chase Daniel a shot will be bolstered. Nagy said this week that he is being patient with Trubisky but also holding him accountable and noted that “we’re getting close” to the point where he needs to show substantive progress.
While Nagy has repeatedly shot down the idea of going to Daniel, the Bears are clawing to keep their playoff hopes alive, and Trubisky has certainly contributed to them ranking 27th in points, 29th in total offense and 29th in passing.
Trubisky’s 81.4 passer rating ranks 27th among the 33 quarterbacks with enough attempts to qualify. All five of his touchdown passes came in one quarter against the Redskins and the meaningless final minutes of the loss to the Saints. His yards-per-game average is down nearly 50 from last season, and it’s coming up on one year since his last 300-yard passing game.
That would dampen anyone’s attitude. Trubisky is fighting human nature.
“I watched the game to really see my facial expressions, my body language and what I’m really doing during the game . . . and how my teammates see me,” he said. “That helped me see . . . how I can be even more positive on the sidelines — be more vocal, more hand gestures and just get back to being myself.
“Especially through times of adversity, they’re always looking toward the leaders. They’re always looking toward me and seeing how we’re going to react, how we’re going to bounce back and be positive. . . . You’ve got to be excited for the opportunity. You’ve got to continue to come work and have fun.”
The only way for this to become enjoyable, though, is to play better and win. Trubisky is sliding dangerously close to a point where it’ll be too late to make something of this season.