Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky hands off to Tarik Cohen on Monday night against the Seahawks. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

A great Bears defense shouldn’t mean a buttoned-up Mitch Trubisky

SHARE A great Bears defense shouldn’t mean a buttoned-up Mitch Trubisky
SHARE A great Bears defense shouldn’t mean a buttoned-up Mitch Trubisky

With the Bears’ defense looking like it might be among the NFL’s best, there’s a temptation to pair it with a buttoned-up Bears offense built on the running game and high-percentage passes.

But having Mitch Trubisky switch positions, from quarterback to fetal, is not in the best long-term interests of a franchise that a year and a half ago was telling us it had solved a problem that had haunted the Bears for decades.

No more would we have to be reminded of Rex Grossman, Shane Matthews, Cade McNown, Rick Mirer, Henry Burris, Kordell Stewart, Craig Krenzel, Chad Hutchinson, Jonathan Quinn and Mike Glennon. (I think I showed a lot of restraint there by not mentioning Jay Cutler.) Chicago had a quarterback, the team announced.

The Bears should stick to their gunslinger.

They shouldn’t sacrifice Trubisky’s development on the altar of winning now. I know that’s a tough proposition for fans. They’ve sat through four straight seasons of 10 or more losses. Now comes an opportunity to be a .500 team or better if a 24-year-old quarterback doesn’t do anything stupid.

But in the headlong rush to bear-hug defenders Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan, don’t lose sight of the fact that the Bears’ master plan is built around Trubisky. It seems rash to alter that plan just 14 starts into his NFL career and two games under new coach Matt Nagy. You’re correct: The goal is to win as many games as possible. But the bigger goal is to have a quarterback who will play 15 years for the franchise. If your quarterback plays that long for you, you’re likely to play in Super Bowls, plural.

Trubisky might never be that guy. But if you’ve invested so much in him, you owe it to the bigger picture to find out if he is. The sooner the better. You don’t want to find out in a Super Bowl three years from now that he can’t complete a deep pass if the lives of his extended family depended on it.

Let the defense do its dominant thing in 2018 and let Trubisky spread his wings, even if it’s painful at times. If the kid is what Nagy says he’s going to be, then the wise thing is to take some lumps now in the hopes of greatness arriving faster.

It’s possible that Trubisky is destined to be mentioned in the same sentence as Grossman, et al. It’s possible that two years from now a grim Nagy will be uttering, “Mitch is our quarterback.’’ If that’s the case, fans’ do-not-resuscitate orders will be honored.

It would be so like the Bears to swing and miss on a franchise quarterback and then come up with a Super Bowl-worthy defense. So like them and so frustrating. But better to find that out now instead of hiding Trubisky behind the kind of bubble-wrapped offense we saw in the Bears’ victory over Seattle on Monday night.


• Eyeing the signs of Bears QB Mitch Trubisky’s growth in a ‘microwave society’

• Bears OLB Khalil Mack’s takeaway knack: ‘The ball is the most important thing’

On Sunday, they play an Arizona team that has scored a total of six points in two games. Bears defenders will be picking feathers out of their teeth by the time they’re done with the Cardinals. So why not open up the offense a bit, even when playing it safe might be prudent for the Bears? What’s there to lose? Certainly not a game. On defense, the Cardinals are giving up 29 points and 430 yards per game. Let’s start getting a better idea of what the Bears have here.

They should want to see progress from Trubisky, even if progress means not making the same mistake twice. Throwing 10-yard passes to Allen Robinson is not progress. Handing off to Jordan Howard is not progress. Development-wise, turning him into a game manager is the equivalent of a play that goes for no yards.

Some people are losing sight of what’s important. Again, I get it. Fans lived on a diet of losses the last four years. They’d like something that tastes good. So now a great defense is flowering in Chicago? Yes, please! Few things resonate more with Bears fans than a frothing pass rush.

But the Bears didn’t take a quarterback with the second overall pick in last year’s draft with building a dominant defense in mind. That has been a lovely coincidence.

And they didn’t hire Nagy, an offensive coordinator in Kansas City, to scribble blitz packages on napkins at dinner.

The idea was to find the next Tom Brady, the next Drew Brees, the next Aaron Rodgers.

Right now, the only way for the Bears to have a chance of finding one of those is to let their quarterback be a quarterback.

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