Pressed for details about the most disappointing performance of his NFL career, quarterback Mitch Trubisky looked from the podium toward a Bears public relations staffer to his right.
“I was told not to talk about the last game,” he said.
He did anyway, eventually. But it was as bizarre a news conference moment as he has logged as a pro. The rest of his performance Wednesday was out of character, too. Usually gregarious, Trubisky was subdued and serious, as if he sensed the gravity of the game ahead — and the one behind him.
After an offseason of build-up — but with exactly three snaps played in the preseason — Trubisky delivered a season-opening dud last Thursday, finishing with a 62.1 passer rating in a 10-3 loss to the rival Packers. Fan expectations of Trubisky that had been stoked by coach Matt Nagy’s public expectations were smothered, one by one, with each errant throw.
And forget the big-picture comparisons to other first-round members of his draft class. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, last season’s NFL MVP, threw for 378 yards, three touchdowns and a 143.2 passer rating in a Week 1 win against the Jaguars. Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson threw for 268 yards, three scores and a 114.3 passer rating in a narrow loss to the Saints on “Monday Night Football.” Trubisky, who was drafted higher than the other two, ranks third among the three, and there’s little he can do this season — short of winning a Super Bowl — to change that.
He spent the weekend feeling the brunt of his performance Thursday.
“Three days to really dwell on it — which you’re not supposed to do,” he said.
That’s how he’s wired, though.
“When things don’t go the right way, or when we don’t win, he puts a lot of the blame of the loss on himself,” backup quarterback Chase Daniel said.
The fact the Bears didn’t hold a practice until their walk-through Monday — or a full practice until Wednesday, six days after the loss — didn’t help clear Trubisky’s mind.
“It was a long, weird weekend after playing on Thursday, and then just sitting on that for a couple days,” he said. “Got to think about it a lot and see what went wrong.”
Asked to name one area where the offense needed to improve, Trubisky named three.
“Just fast operation, in and out of the huddle,” he said. “Everyone on the same page and doing our jobs. And playing with confidence.”
Getting in and out of the huddle more efficiently, he said, is rooted in “less thinking, more communicating and more playing fast.”
Asked to find one area that he felt good about, Trubisky said the ball came out of his hand well against the Packers. But even then, he steered the topic back to the mistakes.
“You have a couple plays early on in the game that went our way, and we might be looking at a whole different ballgame,” he said. “But that’s not how football is. That’s not how life is.”
Especially when Vic Fangio, the defensive mind that knows him best, awaits.
Fangio, the Broncos’ coach and the Bears’ former defensive coordinator, is renowned for blurring his zone coverage to confuse quarterbacks at the line of scrimmage. The Bears need to know “where the bones are buried” once they identify the zone, Nagy said. Running the ball more often — and more efficiently — would help too.
Trubisky matched up against Fangio the last two seasons in practice. During two-minute drills, Fangio would throw his playsheet in the air to celebrate interceptions against Trubisky.
“He’s super-competitive, and we loved that about Vic, but we’ve got to make sure we’re on the right end of it this week,” Trubisky said. “If we go out there and do our jobs, I think we’ll be happy with the result.”
Trubisky would be — and not just because it would mean he’d turned the page on the Packers debacle.
“We’re still positive about it,” he said. “We’re still confident in what we can be as an offense. And we’ve just got to go out there and play that way this week.”