Eagles coach Doug Pederson remembers Cody Parkey’s missed field goal, but also how quarterback Mitch Trubisky got the Bears close enough to try one.
“It was a great two-minute drive at the end of the game, standing in there tall, delivering the throws that he’s capable of doing,” Pederson said of his team’s wild-card win at Soldier Field in January. “That’s who he is.”
Is it, though? Heading to Philadelphia seven games into a rapidly deteriorating season, not even the Bears are exactly sure. Barring a long-shot playoff run, the rest of the season will be devoted to finding out.
Trubisky and the Bears have nose-dived this season, but then there’s this: In three of the Bears’ last eight games, Trubisky has gotten the ball, down by one, with 90 seconds or fewer to play. All three times, the Bears ended the drive with a game-winning field-goal attempt. Parkey double-doinked his kick. Eddy Pineiro beat the Broncos but pushed his kick left against the Chargers last week.
That’s not to praise Trubisky, any more than it is to say the chef who burned dinner sure was handy with the fire extinguisher. The Bears’ deficits have been in part Trubisky’s own making — the Chargers only led because Trubisky turned the ball over twice in the fourth quarter inside the Bears’ 26. Before the last drive against the Broncos, Trubisky had 90 passing yards.
Rather, it’s to wonder: Can the team tap into his moderate end-game success — when he thinks less and relies on instincts more — to improve the rest of his performance? It could be a way to bust what coach Matt Nagy categorized as Trubisky’s “lull.’’
“That’s the one thing with Mitch that I think is really neat that we can take away from,” Nagy said, ‘‘is that he has that.”
The Bears have played up-tempo at times. But the hair-on-fire speed required in late-game situations wouldn’t be sustainable during the entire course of a game.
There are caveats to Trubisky’s final drives, of course.
He didn’t lead the Bears back from a touchdown deficit in Week 1 against the -Packers. Against the Eagles, he benefitted from Tarik Cohen’s 35-yard kickoff return. The Broncos’ roughing-the-passer penalty gifted him 15 yards.
On the three final drives that led to field-goal tries, he completed a combined 6 of 13 passes for 94 yards.
Against the Chargers, though, he scrambled for 11 yards — the first time since Week 1 that he used his legs to get a first down.
“He’s not going to force something that’s not there,” backup quarterback Chase Daniel said. “He’s not going to start rush-watching and try to find lanes to run. That’s not him.”
What is him, Daniel said, is what he did: spin when he felt the pass rush after going through his first two progressions.
“Instincts took over,” Daniel said. “And that’s where he’s really good.”
The final drive “takes some of the thinking out of it for any quarterback,” Daniel said. “There’s a knack for that. And it’s really the most black-or-white situation as a quarterback you can have. You have to complete the ball, you have to move your team into field-goal range at least or a touchdown-winning drive. If you don’t, you lose. . . .
“You almost have to be, in that situation, a little more reckless.”
The best quarterbacks, Pederson said, “have that ‘I don’t care what it takes’ [mentality at the end]. That’s what you saw last week. That’s what we saw in the playoff game last year with him.
‘‘I do think that’s something that guys have or they don’t. He’s one of the guys that has it.”
The Bears need him to have it in the previous 58½ minutes, too.