It’s easy to see how the Bears fell in love with quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
On a second-and-13 in the third quarter Sunday, Packers linebacker Clay Matthews beat tackle Bobby Massie around the right edge and closed in on Trubisky’s blind side. Trubisky felt the pressure, ran left and threw a 14-yard strike to Taylor Gabriel across his body.
“Well, some guys have it, some guys don’t,” coach Matt Nagy said Monday. “He has it. He has a good field presence in the pocket. You can kind of sense it.”
There were times, too, when he made a more mundane play that impressed Nagy just as much. The day after the Bears clinched the NFC North with a 24-17 home win against the Packers, Nagy detailed the spectacular as well as the subtle in describing what he considered one of Trubisky’s best games of the season.
Entering the week, Nagy had talked about helping make Trubisky’s decisions black-and-white, not gray. That happened late in the first quarter. With Trubisky in the shotgun at the Packers’ 16, Anthony Miller went in motion from right to left, giving Trubisky two receivers on either side of the ball. The Packers had five players lined up to rush. When the ball was snapped, though, two players dropped into coverage.
Trubisky caught the snap, bounced on the balls of his feet once, then twice. With his four receivers covered, he decisively checked the ball down to running back Tarik Cohen in the right flat. Cohen ran out of bounds after five yards.
The whole thing took four seconds.
“Real quick to the flat, and he just got, like, four or five yards,” Nagy said. “But within the progression of the play, he made a quick decision.
“No one will know that watching that. They just think the ball was designed to go there on the first part of the play, and it wasn’t. He just made a quick decision and got it out, and as coaches, we know that. That’s where we see the growth.”
That growth needs to continue for the Bears to go deep in the playoffs. But the Bears must be relieved that Trubisky followed perhaps his worst game of the season — he went 16-for-30 for 110 yards and one touchdown with three interceptions for a career-worst 33.3 passer rating against the Rams — with an impressive one.
In beating the Packers, Trubisky completed 20 of 28 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns with no picks for a 120.4 passer rating.
For the fifth time in as many games, he was sacked only once. In his first seven games, he was sacked 16 times.
“And that’s only going to get better each week because he knows where to go with the football,” Nagy said. “Hopefully, you’re going to see less sacks, the ball out, completion percentage higher because he knows where to go. And maybe less scrambling.”
His stats against the Packers weren’t video-game good, but they marked Trubisky’s return to normalcy. He admitted to playing a bit over-caffeinated against the Rams, excited to return after missing two games with a shoulder injury.
“He felt like he might’ve put a little bit too much on his shoulders that last week,” Nagy said. “And so he was really calm and relaxed. His demeanor throughout the game, the times that I saw him — and I know just talking to the coaches on the sideline — he was just cool as a cucumber yesterday. Nothing got too big for him.”
That bodes well for the Bears, the rare NFL team that can rely on its defense for its share of fireworks.
“He protected the football and then he made throws when he was supposed to,” Nagy said. “With this team right now, the way we’re built, when you do that, we’re always going to have a chance to win.”