As long as Mitch Trubisky is making progress, Bears making progress
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You can always find a kicker who can make a 46-yard field goal. But a quarterback who can give you a chance in the last 90 seconds? That’s a little more problematic for most NFL teams, and the Bears in particular.
That’s why the ultimate disappointment last week against the Lions — when Connor Barth missed a potential game-tying 46-yard field goal in the final seconds — wasn’t all that disappointing in the big picture. You can argue that it got the Bears a game closer to a new coach and a game closer to a higher draft pick, and even in defeat, Mitch Trubisky still took a step toward becoming the franchise quarterback the Bears have been looking for.
That’s the kind of moral victory or harbinger of better days to come that the Bears should accept at this stage of the rebuild — kind of like in 2012, when Anthony Rizzo hit a game-tying home run off Kenley Jansen in the ninth inning for the 97-loss Cubs, only for Shawn Camp to lose it in the bottom of the inning.
Trubisky didn’t exactly look comfortable or in command in that two-minute drill last week. But he got his part of the job done. Even his magnificent 19-yard scramble looked harem-scarem by Aaron Rodgers standards, but you can file that away as the kind of clutch play that will come in handy whenever the Bears are ready to win.
Trubisky has not been a revelation in his six starts. He hasn’t lifted the offense on his shoulders or even produced appreciably more than Mike Glennon did. If you’re grading general manager Ryan Pace — kind of a thing at this point in a disappointing season — Trubisky is in neither the “hit” or “miss” category. But that mad scramble and the 15-yard pass to Dontrelle Inman on the next play, which gave the Bears a chance, was evidence that he’s closer to a hit than a miss. Ever so slowly, he’s growing into the job as a quarterback and, just as important, as a leader.
“I love those moments,” Trubisky said when asked about his cool demeanor in the two-minute drill. “That’s where . . . the great quarterback have come from — to be clutch, to deliver in those moments. It makes the game much more fun. You definitely want to deliver for your team. But it’s all about staying cool, calm, collected, making sure everyone’s on the same page and going down to do your job.
“It’s my job to stay cool in those situations. Hopefully my teammates will feed off my demeanor, so nobody’s in a panic and everybody can just do their job.”
Trubisky survived a near-interception when the Lions’ Darius Clay dropped a ball intended for Inman — a bit of good fortune that some quarterbacks seem to get and others don’t. And the offensive line gave him a chance to give the Bears a chance.
“I think that was [the line’s] best game, and we need to have a clean pocket for him,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “As a quarterback, when you’re not getting hit and you kind of sit back there and finally get that rhythm of saying, ‘OK, I’ve got time,’ your confidence starts to grow. That’s where you just keep seeing the steps. You keep seeing the growth.”
To his credit, Trubisky has been self-critical and cognizant of his progress in the context of the process.
“I’m getting a little better each day,” he said.
What he doesn’t have is a watershed moment that confirms Pace knew what he was doing when he traded up to draft Trubisky second overall. Sunday’s game isn’t expected to be that. But with what Trubisky has shown so far, it could happen at any time.
Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash.