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Mitch Trubisky might be NFL’s hottest QB; now he eyes ‘killer instincts’

Somebody told Bears coach Matt Nagy that Mitch Trubisky’s passer rating this season is better than Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s.

Nagy smiled.

“You want to say that one more time?” he said.

Twenty minutes later, someone else asked offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich what was he was thinking Sunday when Trubisky twice threw across his body into the middle of the field, which is verboten at any level of football.

Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky throws against the Buccaneers. | Nam Y. Huh/AP photo

Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky throws against the Buccaneers. | Nam Y. Huh/AP photo

“A heart attack,” Helfrich said.

Entering Sunday’s statement game at home against the Patriots, the truth about Trubisky lives somewhere between those two reactions — sometimes in the same game.

Perhaps that was the best part about Trubisky’s showing against the Dolphins last week. And it was proof that, despite posting his two best career performances in as many games, he has room to get better.

After completing 9 of 14 passes for 89 yards and an 82.1 passer rating in a scoreless first half, Trubisky went 13-for-17 for 227 yards, three touchdown passes and a 157.5 passer rating the rest of the way.

Four second-half scores weren’t enough in a 31-28 overtime loss. So that’s Trubisky’s next step: to walk off the field a winner regardless of the circumstance.

“I love those words: killer instincts,” Trubisky said. “And the great teams, great players, they develop that. And it’s not something that has to be said, so we need that energy. We need that vibe. When it comes down to it, you need a crucial player or a clutch play in the second half, fourth quarter. We’ve got to have that mindset that we’ve got to close out games and go up by more than two scores to really shut out the opponent and just take away all their confidence.”

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Both Nagy and Patriots coach Bill Belichick stressed this week that the best reflection of a quarterback is his win-loss record. Trubisky need only look to the opposite sideline Sunday. Last week, Brady surpassed kicker Adam Vinatieri for the most career wins by an NFL player, with 227 combined in the regular season and postseason.

Trubisky has seven victories. But he’s riding the hottest streak of any quarterback in the game. From Week 4 on, no quarterback has a better passer rating than Trubisky’s 143.3. During that span — three games for most of the league, two for the Bears because of their bye week — no quarterback has averaged more than Trubisky’s 4.5 touchdown passes per game or his 50 rushing yards per game. His 670 passing yards over his last two games are more than Chiefs wunderkind Patrick Mahomes can claim over any two-game stretch.

Trubisky describes the leap as the result of a lot of small improvements. His offensive line has played its best games the last two times out. Route-running has been crisper, and his trust in his receivers has grown.

He has made halftime adjustments, too. Trubisky is a preparation-oriented player. He needs to repeat something in practice to feel fully comfortable. Adjusting on the fly, then, is another positive sign of his development in a season when every rise and plunge is being closely monitored.

He understands the reasons for his successes, and mistakes, in the moment. That’s rare, Helfrich said.

“Even the highly effective guys, they need to watch it on film before they understand what happened,” Helfrich said.

“I’ve had guys like that in the past. [Trubisky] is a guy that comes off the sideline, he immediately knows what happened, almost without exception.”

It’s yet another reason for the Bears to be excited about him.

“I’ll tell you this: I’m looking forward to every day, every week, but really, game by game, I’m really excited to see how Mitch improves,” Nagy said. “Right now, yeah, he’s had a couple games where he’s put together some good numbers. But we want to win.”