Fresh start might benefit both sides as QB Mitch Trubisky heads into possible Bears finale

The outcomes go beyond win or lose for Trubisky on Sunday. Will the team want him back? Does he want to return? There’s a lot swirling as he plays what could be his final game for the Bears.

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Trubisky will start for the 52nd and perhaps final time as a Bear on Sunday.

AP Photos

This could be it for Mitch Trubisky.

There have been other moments when it seemed like he’d be playing his last game for the Bears, but it has never been more palpable than Sunday against the Saints.

The outcomes go beyond win or lose for Trubisky.

The Bears are debating whether they want him back in 2021. He might have no interest after the way they’ve handled him. And surely a couple of teams are evaluating him as an upcoming free agent.

Trubisky said last month he had “thought about [free agency], but thoughts come and go,” then last week he downplayed the Packers game possibly being his last appearance at Soldier Field as a Bear.

If it ends here, Trubisky’s tenure will go down as a failure in the make-or-miss culture of sports. But that’s oversimplifying it.

Obviously, Trubisky isn’t the franchise quarterback the Bears sought, isn’t what teams expect in a No. 2 pick and isn’t in the same stratosphere as fellow 2017 first-rounders Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson.

But Trubisky has done all he could, which is the nicest and nastiest -assessment you can make because the fact is he hasn’t been good enough even with maximum motivation, coachability and a strong work ethic. Those qualities, though, endeared him within Halas Hall.

“You’ve gotta understand, he’s been over to my house and been with the family,” said coach Matt Nagy, who often sounds parental when discussing Trubisky. “And whether it’s having dinner or just hanging out, there’s a relationship there that . . . a lot of people don’t see. When tough decisions are made, it’s not easy because you have experiences like that.

“Being able to grow as a coach, both as a head coach and as a leader for him, it’s been very good. He’s grown, too, and he’s taught me a lot of stuff. . . . I’m learning from him, he’s learning from me and it definitely makes your relationship stronger, especially when you went through what we went through.”

Nagy and Trubisky will always be linked. Nagy was hired to develop him. And while he came from the organization that fell in love with Mahomes instead, he clearly thought highly enough of Trubisky’s potential to take this job.

They’ve endured turbulence, including Nagy’s insistence that Trubisky “win from the pocket.” That always has been one of the most confounding aspects of this saga: Why did Nagy and the Bears want to coach out of him the very thing that attracted them to him in the first place — his athleticism?

The Bears’ pivot to a more Trubisky-styled passing game that emphasizes mobility and rollouts helped them salvage the season, and it must feel like vindication for Trubisky because he pushed for it. The fact that it worked helped them move on from the damage of Nagy benching him in Week 3.

“I think he has more respect for my opinion about things that I feel comfortable with that I think will help this offense and help do what fits us and what our guys do best,” Trubisky said.

“We’ve rebuilt the trust, and it’s been positive, and I think that’s been seen throughout the offense. . . . Having that trust come back to life, I think you’re starting to see it more on the field.”

Trubisky goes into his possible Bears finale with a 29-22 record, including one playoff game, as their starter. He has thrown 65 touchdown passes against 37 interceptions and rushed for another eight scores. His 87.3 passer rating ranks 31st among the 47 players who’ve thrown at least 500 passes during that span.

That’s not good enough, and no amount of tweaking the offense will turn Trubisky into the Bears’ long-term answer.

At best, he could return next season as a bridge to the next quarterback they draft. More likely, they’ll part ways after Sunday, and both will benefit from a fresh start.

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