As the Bears prepare their next quarterback of the future for his first NFL preseason game, their last one tried to explain what went wrong.
Speaking with Bills reporters Tuesday in Orchard Park, New York, Mitch Trubisky was peppered with questions about why his tenure with the Bears ended in disappointing fashion four years after the team made him the No. 2 overall pick.
Trubisky explained he couldn’t find a free-agent opportunity to compete for a starting job, so he found ‘‘the next-best thing’’ in Buffalo, where he could develop his game.
‘‘It’s just really nice to be part of a great team and be somewhere where people want you here and they care about how you’re progressing as a person and as a player,’’ he said.
Did the Bears? Trubisky said he could sense the Bears losing interest in him before they decided not to pick up his fifth-year option in May 2020.
‘‘I kind of saw it coming, just the way I was progressing,’’ he said. ‘‘Year 2 was really good and then Years 3 and 4 not as good. I was dealing with some injuries and some other things going on there. It was disappointing, but it wasn’t a surprise.
‘‘Throughout the process, you can kind of see that they were just continuously believing in me less and less, and that’s just kind of how that process went.’’
If Trubisky has an argument, it’s that the Bears benched him after the first 10½ quarters in 2020, despite him going 2-0. Otherwise, it’s hard to imagine a franchise showing greater public belief in a draft pick — to its own detriment, as it turned out — than the Bears did in Years 1-3, when they never signed a quarterback to threaten Trubisky’s starting job nor said a negative public word about him.
Trubisky didn’t work out in Chicago, but it wasn’t because of the Bears’ lack of support. After replacing Mike Glennon as a rookie in 2017, he took every snap the rest of the season. The next two years, he played every down in which he was healthy. He had every opportunity to succeed.
He did so in 2018, reaching the playoffs and making the Pro Bowl as an injury alternate. But he cratered in 2019 and posted a passer rating of 83.0, 28th among quarterbacks. That prompted the Bears to trade for a quarterback with starting experience, Nick Foles, to push him. Trubisky lasted a little more than 10 quarters, though he later got his job back.
A reporter referred to Trubisky’s record as the Bears’ starter — 29-21 — and asked whether he got a raw deal.
‘‘Numbers are numbers and stats are stats,’’ he said. ‘‘What I was trying to do is go out there and win games. . . . You’re playing in one of the biggest markets in the country, and it’s a tough football town. But I went out there and won games. I continued to get better. . . .
‘‘People are always gonna have something to say about your journey and what everything goes to. But not everybody could have done what I did.’’
If Trubisky needed a second opinion, however, the NFL gave him one this offseason. He said there were ‘‘not as many options as you’d think’’ on the free-agent market and indicated it was ‘‘humbling’’ not to be given a chance to compete for a starting job.
In March, Trubisky signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract to back up Josh Allen. On Friday, the Bills made Allen one of the highest-paid players in the NFL, signing him to a six-year, $258 million deal.
Trubisky said the game feels more ‘‘pure’’ than in the last few years and said he’s ‘‘getting that love for the game back.’’ He won’t get much playing time during the regular season, but he will get plenty of preseason snaps Aug. 21 at Soldier Field.
‘‘It’ll be weird going back there,’’ Trubisky said. ‘‘But I’m looking forward to it.’’