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Bears are Mitch Trubisky’s team again, and he has a lot on the line

Trubisky was somehow “caught off guard” by his Week 3 benching — no one else was — and now he gets a chance to win back his job.

Mitch Trubisky hasn’t started since Sept. 27, when he was benched for Nick Foles against the Falcons.
Mitch Trubisky hasn’t started since Sept. 27, when he was benched for Nick Foles against the Falcons.
Nam Y. Huh/AP

Let’s cut through all the nonsense about how the last two months of sitting on the bench and running the Bears’ scout team has made Mitch Trubisky a better quarterback.

He’s still the same player that has exasperated Bears fans and coaches most of his career, but right now, he’s the best they’ve got heading into their game at the Packers on Sunday. That doesn’t mean he’s going to turn them into a contender. It just means he’s better than Nick Foles.

Officially, this move is because Foles has been out all week with a hip injury, but his recent performances merited a benching anyway.

So Trubisky gets another chance, perhaps his last one, to win the job. As much as coach Matt Nagy kept steering the conversation back to Foles’ injury, he left it open-ended enough to reveal that Trubisky could reclaim the spot that was taken from him in the third game of the season.

“More than anything, what means the most to me is just having an opportunity to come back and be there for my guys when we just need to find a way to win,” Trubisky said Friday. “Being back in the role that I am and being a leader on this team, it means a lot to me to have this opportunity to go into battle with my guys this weekend, so I’m looking forward to it.”

The last time this was Trubisky’s team was Week 3, when he’d just thrown an interception in the third quarter against the Falcons and the Bears were about to fall behind 26-10.

Even with a mask on, Nagy’s disgust was unmistakable. It wasn’t just that mindless pick, it was a third straight game of bad decisions, poor reads of coverage, off-target throws and very few points. There’s no reason to think any of that magically cleared up over the last two months.

At the time Nagy yanked him, Trubisky had completed 59% of his passes, averaged 186.7 yards per game, thrown six touchdowns against three interceptions and managed an 87.4 passer rating.

And despite those numbers, along with near-losses to the Lions and Giants and a huge deficit in the works against the Falcons, Trubisky was somehow surprised Nagy benched him.

“More than anything, I was caught off guard,” he said. “I was just starting to build some momentum, and then it kinda felt like a blind side.”

Only to him. For everyone else, including Nagy, it was a long time coming.

“I said I went with my gut when that happened... [but] there was obviously a lot more to it,” Nagy said. “It ended up being the right thing to do for that game.”

Nagy quickly named Foles his starter indefinitely — a no-brainer after he rallied the Bears from Trubisky’s 26-10 hole to a 30-26 win. But since then, Foles hasn’t been an upgrade. And at a time when the Bears’ offensive line has never been shakier, he’s as flat-footed as it gets.

While the idea that Trubisky has undergone some kind of transformation since his benching is absurd, his attitude toward Nagy’s decision is telling. He got over the demotion and dedicated himself to his humble new job.

“The first couple days, it sucked being in that role, but I was trying to just continue to keep perspective and think long term,” Trubisky said. “I just changed my mindset to embrace practice. I was doing my job on the scout team, just trying to give the defense a good look, taking a lot of pride in that.”

That’s why Chicago still roots for Trubisky and would revel in a resurgence even while knowing he’s gone after the season. For all his flaws as a passer, he does and says all the right things. People have wanted him to get this chance. Now it has arrived, and it could last well beyond Sunday.