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Truth hurts: Mitch Trubisky motivated to ‘play quarterback’ this time

The Bears QB had no answer after the Packers took away his running game and made him beat them with his arm. “I want to play better,” he said. “Got a great opportunity to do that this week.”

Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky was sacked five times against the Packers in the season opener at Soldier Field, including by Preston Smith on this play in the Packers’ 10-3 victory on Sept. 5.
Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

Cornerback Tramon Williams’ jab at Mitch Trubisky and the Bears after the Packers’ opening-week victory at Soldier Field didn’t cut quite as deeply as the classic 49ers taunt from their 23-0 victory over the Bears in the NFC Championship Game after the ’84 season — “Next time, bring an offense.”

But like that biting gibe that became fuel for the 1985 Bears, the pain in Williams’ critique of Trubisky after the Packers’ 10-3 victory in September was in its truth.

“We wanted to make Mitch play quarterback,” Williams said. ‘‘We knew they had a lot of weapons. We knew they were dangerous. But we knew if we could make Mitch play quarterback that we’d have a chance.”

The Packers indeed took away the Bears’ running game and took away Trubisky’s running game to force him to make plays in the passing game, and he came up way short. Trubisky completed 26 of 45 passes for 228 yards and no touchdowns and threw a crushing end-zone interception to former Bear Adrian Amos for a 62.1 passer rating.

Trubisky said he had not heard about Williams’ analysis — until it was brought up Wednesday at Halas Hall.

“I got enough motivation from the outside, and I guess that’s even more motivation,” Trubisky said. “I didn’t hear that. I don’t really care.”

Rather than fire back, Trubisky tacitly acknowledged that the truth hurts.

“I didn’t play the way I wanted to [in] the first game — that’s fairly obvious,” he said. “So for him to say something about it — I mean, that’s just an obvious statement, I guess. I want to play better. Got a great opportunity to do that this week.”

Williams’ analysis was framed as trash talk, but it was just sound strategy. Amos explained it in a less incendiary manner when asked about it Wednesday.

“We limited him from running,” said Amos, who played for the Bears from 2015 to 2018. “We were just sound. We played well together, and we didn’t let him have anything easy.”

Just as those Ditka-era Bears brought an offense the next time — beating the 49ers 26-10 at Candlestick Park in 1985 on their way to winning Super Bowl XX — the 2019 Bears are hoping to show Williams and his teammates a better quarterback and a more proficient offense Sunday at Lambeau Field.

After muddling through most of the season as other opponents applied the Packers’ strategy against Trubisky, the Bears’ offense has shown signs of getting it together. Trubisky threw for 338 yards, three touchdowns and a 118.1 rating in a victory over the Lions on Thanksgiving. He backed that up against the Cowboys’ ninth-ranked defense with three more touchdown passes, a 115.5 rating and 63 rushing yards in a 31-24 victory last week.

Just as the offensive malaise was not totally on Trubisky, the recent renaissance is a team effort. The Bears’ offensive line is playing better. The running game is better. And, not coincidentally, Trubisky’s game has flourished. He was sacked five times against the Packers in Week 1. He has been sacked five times in the last three games — victories over the Giants, Lions and Cowboys.

“We’re kind of in a rhythm now; we’re a different team,” Trubisky said. “There were some things we had to go through in the first game and the beginning of the season that just didn’t go our way. And there’s things we learned from as an offense.

“I just feel like we have a newfound identity of what we want to do, and everybody is really locked in to what they have to do.”

Contributing: Jason Lieser