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Grand finale? It’s all about 2020 for Mitch Trubisky

Bears beleaguered quarterback is searching for elusive consistency vs. the Vikings on Sunday. But in a meaningless game, Week 17 success is unlikely to change any minds.

Dallas Cowboys v Chicago Bears
Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky was never better this season than against the Cowboys on Dec. 5 at Soldier Field — he threw three touchdown passes and had a 115.5 passer rating — and rushed for 63 yards, including this 23-yard touchown.
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Mitch Trubisky can’t win Sunday.

Even if he’s great against the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium and leads the Bears to victory, it will be dubious — a fit of success in a meaningless season-ending game against an opponent more interested in staying healthy than winning. It would be almost an indictment. Fans might say: “Now you come out laser-focused with the pressure off.” Not a great deal for Trubisky, but that’s the reality.

And in the big picture, a supreme closing performance against the Vikings wouldn’t do anything to change the narrative confirmed in the minds of many over the previous 15 games: Trubisky is not the franchise quarterback the Bears thought they were getting when they traded up to draft him second overall in 2017.

There’s no doubt that Trubisky is not the people’s choice. The key question at Halas Hall in the offseason will be, to what extent — if any — do the Bears agree? Matt Nagy publicly stands by his quarterback. General manager Ryan Pace figures to do the same.

Two key questions will provide a hint of where they really stand: Will the Bears pick up the fifth-year option on Trubisky’s rookie contract for 2021? And will they bring in a veteran to challenge Trubisky for the starting job in 2020?

Pace and Nagy will face a lot of difficult questions after this season. Assuming they’ll back Trubisky for 2020, their argument against the public narrative that Trubisky is a bust will be interesting.

Bears offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich took a stab at that this week and probably provided a preview of the answer we’ll get from Pace.

“That position matters a lot,” Helfrich said. “He’s had some ups and downs for sure. We, collectively, have had some ups and downs, and we have to support him better — that’s [the] coaches; that’s the supporting cast around him; the circumstances and all the stuff that goes a\into that position.

“If you’re not winning, the quarterback is the easiest guy — the quarterback and the head coach are the easiest guys to blame. That’s gonna happen. You can write that column forever. You can . . . copy and paste the name of Coach X and Quarterback Y and that’s easy. It’s just not always that easy.”

So which is the easier fix? The quarterback, or everything around him — the running game, offensive line, tight-end production, etc., etc.? Helfrich said that big-picture question was “beyond the scope of this discussion” but again pointed to the entire operation. “Everybody,” Helfrich said, “That’s what I mean by collectively. One guy will get blamed . . . but it’s not one guy. It never is.”

Therein lies the crux of the Trubisky debate. In two seasons in Nagy’s offense, Trubisky has shown little evidence he’s the franchise quarterback who can lift a team on his shoulders and carry it to the Super Bowl. Two key elements top the list — consistency and the “it” factor.

And with both of those factors, there’s no switch to flip to make it happen. That’s why one game isn’t going to make a difference. It’s just another step along the way.

“The consistency just hasn’t been there. I could be a lot more consistent quarterback in the future,” Trubisky said when asked about his potential. “That’s how I’m trying to finish up 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.

“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 just gotta continue to look within myself and know that it’s in there. You see it at times, but other times it’s not there, which is inconsistent. I’ve gotta be better.”