Mitch Trubisky is running out of time to prove he’s good enough for the Bears, or any team, to bank on as a franchise quarterback. He regressed across the board this season, and the team has to decide soon whether to pick up an expensive 2021 option and whether he has a future beyond that.
He feels the urgency.
“That’s how the NFL is,” he said. “It’s a dangerous, violent game, and there’s only so many opportunities, and only the best of the best play it.”
The Bears have been waiting on Trubisky’s arrival since general manager Ryan Pace traded up to draft him No. 2 overall in 2017. He showed signs he was headed the right direction last season, but little has gone right since.
Trubisky opened with an ugly game against the Packers and, other than brief flashes, couldn’t turn his season around. His 82.9 passer rating ranks 28th of 32 qualifying quarterbacks and is the lowest by a Bear with at least 350 attempts since Jay Cutler in 2012.
He’ll begin a crucial offseason after the Bears visit the Vikings on Sunday. He did not say whether he’ll need surgery after tearing his labrum in September, but that could hinder his training. He also should be prepared for legitimate competition for the starting job.
But more than anything, Trubisky is motivated by his own poor play.
“Anytime you feel like you’re not playing up to your potential, I think that drives you,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of personal drive and fire within me [and] I know I haven’t played to my potential yet. That’s frustrating, but it’s also something that motivates me a lot.”
Trubisky said he battled discouragement this season, and that’s no surprise after failing to make a meaningful leap in Year 3.
He dropped from 24 touchdowns in 2018 to 17, his completion percentage fell from 66.6 to 62.6 and his yards per game dipped from 230.2 to 209.4. He has averaged an NFL-low 6.1 yards per attempt. His one improvement has been cutting his interceptions from 12 to 10.
His struggles have taxed his confidence, and Trubisky has had to “count the small victories” to keep himself upbeat.
“It’s a long year physically, and then mentally, yeah, there’s times you’re going to go through that,” Nagy said. “But what I look for is how do you get through it? And I thought he did that.”
Nagy’s notion that Trubisky pulled out of his early-season slump is debatable. The best the Bears looked was during a 4-1 stretch beginning in November, in which Trubisky threw 11 touchdown passes and five interceptions while averaging 244.6 yards and posting a 95.4 rating. He was brutal in the two losses since.
The four victories came against the Lions (twice), Giants and Cowboys — teams with a combined record of 14-30-1. In the other game, a 17-7 loss to the Rams, Trubisky put up a 65.1 rating and was benched late for a murky combination of injury and performance.
“You see really good games, and then you see some really bad games,” Trubisky said of his season. “The consistency just hasn’t been there. I think I could be a lot more of a consistent quarterback in the future. That’s how I’m trying to finish up in this last game. Just make good decisions, get the ball to the playmakers, be a consistent quarterback and put my team in a good position to win.
“And I feel like a lot of the games where I’ve played really well, I’ve done that this year. But other times I haven’t, and that’s not doing my job. That’s where the frustrating part comes in, and I’ve just got to continue to look within myself and know that it’s in there. You see it at times, but other times it’s not there. I’ve got to be better.”