Struggling but smiling: Bears QB Mitch Trubisky’s demeanor matters to Matt Nagy

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Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky is looking to improve against the Bucs. | Associated Press

Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky raised his hand during the sixth of 12 questions about him during his news conference this week.

‘‘For those of us who haven’t played quarterback in the NFL . . . ,’’ a reporter began.

‘‘Hands?’’ Trubisky chimed in. ‘‘Hands?’’

Between sips of water, Trubisky smiled several times during his weekly media session at Halas Hall. He also made a joke about having an easy test to pass if the Bears do pare down the offense for him.

Asked about Trubisky’s reactions a day later, coach Matt Nagy smiled, too. It appears Trubisky still is having fun, despite facing growing criticism for his own shortcomings in the first three games of the season.

‘‘You have to have that,’’ Nagy said Thursday. ‘‘If you’re not having fun when you play this game, there’s something wrong with you. [If] you put too much pressure on yourself, you won’t perform.

‘‘The criticism comes with the territory for every player in this league, every coach in this league, so he’s just going to be himself. He understands where we’re at as a team [and] where I’m at as a coach with him. I would be concerned if he wasn’t having a good time [or] being himself out there in practice and in the building.’’

It might seem like faint praise from a coach for his struggling young quarterback, but it’s a good sign that Trubisky’s public interactions haven’t spiraled into the snarling and sneering that defined former quarterback Jay Cutler’s early years with the Bears.

As Nagy and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich consider what Trubisky can handle mentally right now in their offense, they’re also mindful of his mentality. His coaches see a young quarterback with perfectionist traits, a player who is overly hard on himself.


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‘‘He’s definitely a guy you need to lighten up [and] say, ‘Hey, let it go,’ ’’ Helfrich said. ‘‘And you can say that in a lot of different ways that is unique to every individual quarterback’s personality.’’

Helfrich said Trubisky needs to have a ‘‘press-the-clear-button type of thought process,’’ and he and Nagy think they’ve seen it. Their best evidence came in the second halves of the Bears’ victories against the Seahawks and Cardinals.

It’s Trubisky leading the Bears to 13 points in the second half Sunday against the Cardinals after losing a fumble, throwing an interception and being sacked twice in the first half.

Or it’s Trubisky managing an 11-play scoring drive that doesn’t include a third down in the second half against the Seahawks after throwing two interceptions in the first half.

Earlier this season, Nagy promised to protect Trubisky with his play-calls if he thought it necessary. The Bears’ two victories have included such calls, too. Just look at all the quick receiver screens as proof.

‘‘[But] if [Trubisky] starts getting into a shell, we all get into a shell,’’ Nagy said after the Bears defeated the Seahawks.

Trubisky is struggling, but he’s still smiling. In Nagy’s world of quarterbacking, that counts for something. He knows when a quarterback is playing tight or loose — and what it means for all involved.

‘‘You can tell sometimes if a guy has something on his mind or is not thinking typically,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘More things happen in practice where you just say, ‘Something’s not right,’ and I haven’t seen that with him. We haven’t had any of those days where you just say to yourself, ‘Man, this is crazy.’

‘‘Myself dealing with [former Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith] for five years, every now and then, you might have one of those days, and that’s OK. But for the most part, you don’t see that, and [Trubisky] hasn’t had those.’’

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