PHILADELPHIA — This was the time to bench Mitch Trubisky.
After the first half Sunday, he had completed 6 of 13 passes for 25 yards and was sacked three times. The Bears’ offense had nine yards, the franchise’s worst first-half showing in 40 years. It faced at least 10 yards to go on 17 of its 24 first-half snaps, not counting punts. The Eagles played more man coverage than usual, daring Trubisky to make them pay. He couldn’t.
The offense’s ineptitude bled over to the defense, which played 40 downs in the first half. The defense was on the field for only 42 plays the previous week against the Chargers.
The Bears, who haven’t won a game since Sept. 29, were down 12-0 at halftime. The fate of their season depended on them getting a spark, even if that meant backup Chase Daniel merely running a professional-looking offense.
So when Trubisky ran out of the locker room and warmed up with his helmet on while Daniel stayed in a baseball cap, it proved what the Bears have been saying publicly all year: They will not bench their starting quarterback. Not last Sunday or next Sunday or — now that the playoff pipe dream is all but officially dead — in the doldrums of irrelevant December football.
After the 22-14 loss to the Eagles, the 3-5 Bears and Trubisky are stuck with each other for the rest of the season.
General manager Ryan Pace’s big bet on Trubisky has failed. The Bears will be doubling down the rest of the year in a scramble to rediscover his value.
Coach Matt Nagy, of course, said he never considered benching Trubisky at halftime.
“No, I didn’t,” Nagy said. “I think for all of us, we knew that we could collectively be better.”
Trubisky, though, closely resembled a professional quarterback in the game’s final 30 minutes. But his final stats — he went 10-for-21 for 125 yards and a dismal 66.6 passer rating — were eerily similar to a performance the Bears deemed unacceptable two weeks ago. Before garbage time against the Saints, Trubisky was 20-for-35 for 119 yards and a 63.9 passer rating.
Trubisky showed life in the second half, finding Taylor Gabriel for a 53-yard completion on the first drive that led to one of David Montgomery’s two rushing touchdowns. But he had help failing in the second half, too. Allen Robinson dropped a deep pass down the right sideline that, while left a bit short, hit him in both hands. Montgomery dropped a screen pass in the fourth quarter that seemed destined for 20 yards. Two plays later, the Bears punted and never ran another offensive play.
Trubisky was as exasperated after the loss as he has been all season.
“Where the frustration is? It’s losing,” Trubisky said. “It’s not playing up to what we know we’re capable of. It’s making simple mistakes. It’s getting out-executed, getting outplayed, when we know we’re capable of much more, when we know we have more inside of us, when we know we’re talented but we’re still coming up short.
“There’s a lot of really simple things that we did last year, that we do in practice, that on game day we’re coming up short. That’s why you have this crappy feeling. That’s where the frustration comes. Losing sucks. You can tell we don’t like it.”
Robinson said he never wondered if the Bears would switch quarterbacks, while right tackle Bobby Massie wouldn’t blame Trubisky for the team’s struggles.
“If we lose a [bleeping] game,” Massie said, “everybody loses a [bleeping] game.”
Regardless of the result, the Bears will keep giving Trubisky chances in the next bleeping game.
And the ones after that.