Dowell Loggains’ words last week now seem prophetic.
“You guys have heard me say — we talk about it all the time with the team — ‘You have to find a way not to lose before you win,’ ” the Bears’ offensive coordinator said. “And we’re still in that battle right now, trying to do that and play smarter football.”
Mitch Trubisky did just what Loggains was talking about Sunday: He didn’t lose the game.
No one will etch that onto the base of a statue. But one week after Trubisky threw an interception with the game tied with 2½ minutes left, a 27-24 overtime win against the Ravens was progress — and a welcome change from Mike Glennon’s NFL-leading turnover count at the time he was benched.
Trubisky’s performance earned the trust of the Bears’ coaching staff as it crafts the next game plan against the Panthers on Sunday. In his first road start, Trubisky showed he could carry out the coaches’ wishes — on a short week, no less — even when it probably went against his playmaker instincts. He threw the ball away six times rather than risk a mistake.
“It beats six interceptions,” coach John Fox said.
In a rare moment of specificity Monday, Fox praised Trubisky’s throwaway on third-and-3 at the Ravens’ 5. The Bears settled for a field goal.
“That’s also making a play,” running back Tarik Cohen said. “Making a play can be many things. Not making a turnover can be looked at as making a play.”
The Bears spent the week before Trubisky’s debut — and, in actuality, longer — preparing a plan that played to his strengths: rollout passes and play-action plays that would take advantage of his accuracy on the move.
Sunday’s scheme was more tailored toward identifying and avoiding the Ravens’ strengths. Trubisky’s only turnover was a fumble after he was hit on a blindside sack by safety Lardarius Webb. The blockers shoulder more blame than the quarterback.
No NFL QB who started and finished a game last week had fewer completions than Trubisky’s eight (three had more off the bench) or fewer passing yards than his 113. But in a conservative attack, Trubisky’s discretion was the better part of valor, and, the Bears said, worthy of praise.
So was a sideline meeting he held after a punt, in front of the offensive line’s bench. The message to the entire offense: No one needed to try to be a hero as long as they played together.
He lived his advice. He didn’t force anything.
“Just know he’s a player,” Cohen said. “He’s going to try to make plays for us. He’s just stepping into the leadership role and just becoming more of a leader.”
The best plays he made, though, were the ones he didn’t.
“I think Mitch played outstanding,” Fox said. “Did he throw the ball 45 times? No. To me, that doesn’t define ‘outstanding.’ ”
Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley.