As much as he tries to insulate himself from “outside noise,” Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky can’t ignore reality. Trubisky vs. Deshaun Watson is the storyline of the week in Chicago.
And he’s aware of the score. Watson is a two-time Pro Bowl quarterback with the Texans who is fourth in the NFL with a 110.0 passer rating (24 touchdowns, six interceptions), despite many of the same obstacles Trubisky faces. He’s on a losing team with a 32nd-ranked running game and poor pass protection — his 33 sacks are tied for the third most in the NFL. And he has played this season without departed Pro Bowl wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
Trubisky is a one-time Pro Bowl quarterback still struggling to make it in his fourth NFL season — and any success he has likely will be on another team as the Bears almost certainly will look for another franchise quarterback after this season. Trubisky’s 88.2 passer rating in five starts (10 touchdowns, five interceptions) would rank 26th in the NFL if he had enough attempts to qualify.
“I don’t control that narrative. I don’t control what people say about it,” Trubisky said. “It’s always going to be a story just because that’s the draft class we were in. It was me, Deshaun and Pat [Mahomes]. We were picked where we were, and now it’s up to us to make the most out of our opportunities. They’ve done a great job with theirs, and I’m still trying to write my story here, so that’s all there is to it.
“My opportunity is to lead my team this week and try to get a win. I’m excited about that. I’m also happy for their success as well because obviously they’ve earned it.”
Nearly four full seasons into their NFL careers, the Trubisky-Watson-Mahomes scenario already is so defined that one game won’t make a difference. If Trubisky wins the day Sunday, it won’t alter the narrative. Trubisky sounded genuinely enthused about facing Watson, but not as a personal battle. And he has previous experience with this kind of thing after facing Mahomes and the Chiefs at Soldier Field last Dec. 22 — a 26-3 Chiefs victory.
“I think it will be pretty easy to block it out,” Trubisky said. “I’m excited about the game, playing against Deshaun and the Texans, so it’s going to be a good challenge, especially for the spot that we’re in this week.”
The Bears (5-7) still have playoff hopes — a 94% chance, according to a New York Times calculator — if they win their final four games. (The 4-8 Texans are on the brink of elimination from the AFC playoff, with less than a 1% chance of making the postseason even if they win out.)
That makes it a little easier for Trubisky to tune out the Trubisky vs. Watson buzz.
“We know what we have to do,” Trubisky said. “Every game is a must-win from here on out, so it’s just that attitude that we’re taking in practice.
“I know there’s going to be storylines and all that, but my job is just to focus on doing my job to help this team win, and I’m excited about that. I’m excited to have another opportunity to play this weekend against the Texans. It’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s going to be a good challenge.”
Trubisky said he is not close with Watson, though they went through portions of the draft process together — including the week of the NFL Draft in Philadelphia.
“I haven’t really stayed in touch. But obviously a fan, just watching him and his game,” Trubisky said. “He does a lot of great stuff off the field as well, giving back to the communities, and he’s a great role model for kids to look up to as well. So I’ve got a lot of respect for him and everything he does.”