Two-minute warning: Hurry-up offense sparks Mitch Trubisky — and it’s just enough to win
The up-tempo offense at the end of the first half led to another burst of rhythm and success for Trubisky. ‘‘The comfort level we have with our two-minute offense is a strength of our offense right now.”
The two-minute drill might be the best coach on the Bears’ offensive staff. Nothing quite unlocks the best of Mitch Trubisky like the tempo of the hurry-up offense.
It happened again Sunday in the Bears’ 19-14 win over the Giants at Soldier Field. Trubisky, hampered by a bad drop by Ben Braunecker and an ill-timed penalty on center Cody Whitehair that nullified a 60-yard pass play, was muddling through another disappointing performance late in the first half.
He had completed 8 of 17 passes for 52 yards and threw an interception for a 29.5 passer rating. But with 1:55 left, the Bears trailing 7-0 and the offense starting a drive at its 33-yard line, Trubisky had no choice but to go unscripted and just go, go, go — and he found the range.
He threw a 16-yard pass to Anthony Miller, then a 13-yard pass to Tarik Cohen. Working without a huddle, he threw a 14-yard pass to Miller. Then he had a five-yard scramble and — after a timeout — a six-yard pass to Miller for a first-and-10 at the Giants’ 13 with 33 seconds left.
Only after the timeouts started to add up and Trubisky had more time to hear, listen and think, did the drive slow down. He scrambled out of bounds for a one-yard loss and threw incomplete on a play with no chance of success, and the Bears settled for Eddy Pineiro’s 26-yard field goal to go into halftime trailing 7-3.
It was only a field goal. But you could see the difference. Even Trubisky noticed.
“I can just see the defense — not thinking as much,” Trubisky said. “Guys are in their spots, worried about the play clock. You’re just seeing space, seeing the defense and just kind of reacting.
“It’s something I’ve been doing my whole life, so it’s more natural for me. But it shouldn’t be any different than [working out of] the huddle. If we just have that tempo and urgency, and everybody is mindful of doing their jobs, they should have the same result. But I think just the comfort level that we have with our two-minute offense is a strength of our offense right now.”
The Bears aren’t likely to run a no-huddle offense from start to finish, but replicating the urgency of the two-minute drill sounds like something coach Matt Nagy might want to consider. Because once Trubisky gets in that groove, he plays his best football.
After the field-goal drive to end the half, the Bears scored on their first three possessions of the second half — a 56-yard touchdown drive, an 88-yard field-goal drive and a three-yard touchdown drive — to take a 19-7 lead. Trubisky completed 9 of 11 passes for 143 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown to Allen Robinson, for a 149.1 passer rating in that span.
It’s all about tempo and rhythm — not just for Trubisky, but for a Trubisky-led offense.
“That’s what it is, just getting guys in and out, playing fast,” said Trubisky, who finished 25-for-41 for 278 yards with one touchdown pass and two interceptions for a 69.0 rating. “[The defense] can’t substitute, and we’re not substituting, either, so everybody knows where their spots are at, and we’re playing fast. I think that’s when guys play free, and guys are getting in the right spots and making plays.”
Playing free and easy seems to be the key to success for Trubisky — maybe his only chance to make it in this league. He has more voices in his head on a daily basis than maybe any quarterback — Nagy, offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone and backup Chase Daniel. He sounds like a robot. But Sunday’s game seemed like another indication that there might be a better way to get him to play like a quarterback. Maybe less is more.