A day before Mitch Trubisky’s boss is expected to defend him to the public, his teammates got a head start.
While they were cleaning out their lockers at Halas Hall on Monday after a disappointing 8-8 season, players pointed to Trubisky’s intangibles. That’s an easier argument to make than a statistical one. Trubisky finished his third season ranked 32nd in the NFL in yards per pass at 6.1 and 28th with a passer rating of 83.0.
“I mean, he’s resilient as hell,” said right tackle Bobby Massie, who was limited to 10 starts because of injuries. “He caught a lot of heat from outside this building, and he just fought through it all. He never folded.
“He stood up and fought for the offense every week and played the best that he could every game.”
Is that good enough? General manager Ryan Pace will be asked that very question Tuesday, when he addresses the media for the first time since the week of the Bears’ season-opening loss to the Packers.
Pace and coach Matt Nagy must decide this offseason whether Trubisky will remain their starter, whether they’ll bring in a veteran to challenge him and whether they’ll extend him a fifth-year option for 2021. Chase Daniel, the backup the last two years who has played only when Trubisky was too injured to take the field, will be a free agent in March.
“Mitch is a leader,” said rookie wide receiver Riley Ridley, who caught a fourth-down pass Sunday that set up the Bears’ game-winning field goal against the Vikings’ second string. “Guys may not see it looking in from the outside, but he’s a leader. He’s a guy that wants to do things the right way.
“As a young guy, I want to get behind him. I want to follow him. That was just some of the things I want to do — I just want to get in his ear, let him know, ‘I’m a young guy, but I’m going to be able to step up one day.’ ”
Asked whether the offensive line took responsibility for Trubisky’s play, Massie said that “we just give him time” and that “he’s the one throwing the ball and making the reads.” He praised Trubisky’s attitude, though.
“It’s very contagious,” he said. “When you see your quarterback doing it, he’s the face of the team. So it hypes everybody up and gets everybody else ready to go.”
All the positivity in the world, though, doesn’t change the fact that the offense is broken and must be fixed.
The Bears finished the regular season ranked second-to-last in the league with 4.7 yards per play and fourth-to-last with 17.5 points and 296.8 yards per game. At no point during the season did the Bears rank any higher than 28th in points per game.
The Bears scored 30 offensive points in the first quarter all season. They failed to get an offensive touchdown in the first half in 11 of 16 games.
“We just didn’t score points,” Massie said. “That’s what we have to do. We didn’t get into the end zone, a lot of three-and-outs. Inconsistent opening drives of the game, not scoring in the first quarter. There were a lot of things that we didn’t accomplish as an offense this year that we need to get better at.”