My firm intention was to let Mitch Trubisky get on with his new life in Buffalo. A fresh start for him. A new beginning for me, finally free of the maddening disparity between what Bears coaches and teammates said about him and what I saw from him.
But now the Bills are gushing about Trubisky’s performance in early practices, and I can see that my work isn’t done. Faithful Bears observers will recall that when Mitch was playing quarterback for their team, he was the greatest practice player in the history of practice. We knew this because Bears coach Matt Nagy would gush about the kid’s midweek performances in ways that would make an egomaniac blush. The accuracy! The arm strength! The feel for the game!
Then Sunday would arrive, and Trubisky was a different man, deeply affected by defenders playing at full speed, not Halas Hall speed. At postgame news conferences, Nagy would look genuinely surprised that the man who had looked like Tom Brady in practice had morphed into Tom Thumbs, plural, when it counted. All of it, the entire exhausting saga, finally led to the Bears’ letting Trubisky walk after last season.
Fine. Good. It was best for everyone involved. But there’s this thing called the Internet and there are beings called humans, and when combined, you end up reading that Buffalo offensive coordinator Brian Daboll thinks Trubisky has been excellent in the Bills’ quarterbacks meeting room so far. “Fantastic meeting-room guy’’ is first cousins with “great practice player.’’
“He’s a professional, and he’s been through a lot in his career — 50 games, he’s played a lot of football,” Daboll said. “He’s got a good way about him. You go from one team to the next and the terminology is all different. We’re just trying to ask him right now to make sure that he’s got things that he has to have down - the playbook, the audibles, he’s got a lot of freedom. He’s got to learn how to use it the way he needs to use it when he’s playing.”
And here’s a Buffalo News description of Mitch’s performance from a recent offseason session:
“Trubisky made some on-target rhythm throws and looks like he’s picking up the Bills’ offense early in the offseason process. The new Bills’ No. 2 quarterback, signed as a free agent from Chicago to upgrade the spot behind Josh Allen, enjoyed an accurate day. He looked sharp in the practice open to media last week, as well.
“Trubisky hit tight end Dawson Knox in perfect stride on a crossing route during the 7-on-7 portion of the practice. Then he led receiver Duke Williams perfectly on a deep cross. His next pass was on target in a tight window on the sideline for Knox, but linebacker Tyrell Adams got a hand in the way to force the ball out of Knox’s grasp.
“In 11-on-11 work, Trubisky hit tight end Nate Becker against tight coverage, and then he placed an intermediate pass into the arms of Williams, who did well to shield his body to get free of tight coverage.’’
A seasoned Bears observer will have read that description in some form approximately 500 times during Trubisky’s four years in Chicago. We retained these descriptions because they were so different from the up-and-down quarterback who graced our city on game day.
The lesson in all of this, one our friends in Buffalo might learn if Allen gets knocked out of a game, is that it’s the definition of “unwise’’ to attach meaning to anything Trubisky does in practice. You can say that about a lot of NFL players but not as loudly as you can say it about Mitch.
The kindest approach is to declare that this phenomenon is more about coaches who can’t shut up than it is about a quarterback who can’t quarterback. In other words, there was nothing stopping Nagy from staying mute about Trubisky’s “excellent” practices the past four seasons, and there won’t be anything stopping Bills coach Sean McDermott from stuffing a sock in his mouth when the urge to praise Trubisky hits him. But a modern-day coach can’t help himself. He’s an oscillating fan spreading sweet nothings.
So I expect the Bills to eventually describe Mitch as the greatest No. 2 quarterback in league history. But, trust me, that designation will be impossible as long as Justin Fields is the Bears’ backup quarterback to Andy Dalton.
Someday, Fields will become the starter. When that day arrives, Bears fans should pray that Nagy doesn’t start raving about the rookie’s practice habits.