Completing passes should be the only thing on Mitch Trubisky’s to-do list
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One thing matters. The secret of life is finding out what your one thing is. Once you’ve found it, everything else becomes inconsequential.
I know this because that’s what Curly told Mitch in ‘‘City Slickers.’’
Someone needs to pass it along to our Mitch — Mitch Trubisky — and all the people around him who seem to be wasting time and energy on peripheral things. Allow me to be the tough, leathered, vaguely unstable Curly and go even further with the Bears quarterback: Your one thing is to be great on game days. That’s it.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a leader.
It doesn’t matter that teammates love your attitude.
It doesn’t matter that you’re so ‘‘coachable.’’
It doesn’t matter that you’re eager to learn and improve.
It doesn’t matter that you carry yourself well on the field.
It doesn’t matter if you’re the first to arrive every day at Halas Hall and the last to leave.
It doesn’t matter if you impress media members at news conferences.
The only thing that matters is playing well on game days.
None of those other things, although good, will in themselves turn Trubisky into a great quarterback. He and the Bears are getting bogged down in personality traits that don’t matter — or that matter a whole lot less than the one thing.
It’s as if the Bears are trying to develop the complete man, not a football player. Maybe it’s an experiment: Take a raw kid who started only 13 games in college and 12 in his rookie season and immerse him completely in a program that addresses anything having to do with being an NFL quarterback, no matter how remote.
So Trubisky has been communicating regularly with a nationally known leadership guru the Bears have brought in for seminars. Because of it, he now contemplates how to interact positively with teammates — to the point where he consciously thinks about body language and eye contact. He wants them to know he cares. Listen, Mitch, baby, sweetheart: Nothing says ‘‘I care’’ more than a 50-yard touchdown pass.
The Bears have put too much value on Trubisky’s other things when the only thing that should matter is whether he can play quarterback. Or, to put it another way, I don’t care how joyfully he celebrates with teammates after a big play. I’d just like to see him lead a successful two-minute drive.
I mentioned this in an earlier column about Trubisky: Be good first, then lead. Being a leader doesn’t lead to being a good quarterback. Generally, it’s the other way around.
We’re one game into the season, and lots of us have gone into analytical overdrive because it wasn’t a good game. Trubisky was good in the first half against the Packers and not good in the second. He seemed to lose his composure as the Packers roared back.
Coach Matt Nagy wanted everyone to know the first thing Trubisky said to him after the game was, ‘‘How can I be better?’’ This feeds into the team-pushed storyline of Mitch as enthusiastic learner and team player — everything a coach wants. But that storyline only has some meaning if he improves Monday against the Seahawks at Soldier Field. Enthusiasm and coachability won’t mean anything if he shows the same happy feet he showed under pressure from the Packers.
Is Trubisky trying to be all things to all people? It sure looks that way. It looks like too much, an information overload. It hurts just to think about the pile he has on his plate. A complicated playbook would seem to be enough without his having to worry about whether he’s meshing with teammates or how young fans and pesky media members perceive him.
I wonder if Trubisky’s attention to how he carries himself has something to do with Jay Cutler’s poor reputation in town. But Cutler is painful proof the only thing that matters is performance. If he had been great, his aloofness would have been accepted, if not celebrated. Because he wasn’t, the other stuff came to the forefront.
Again, one game into a season, we’re parsing Trubisky as we would ‘‘King Lear.’’ It seems a bit much, but so do all the things that have been put in his basket. Remember when throwing the ball was the only criterion for a quarterback?
I wouldn’t be surprised if, at some point this season, Nagy announces he needs to simplify things for his overwhelmed quarterback.
‘‘City Slickers’’ came out in 1991, three years before Trubisky was born. I’d tell him to watch it, but I’d be worried he’d watch it as much as he watches tape of opponents, which is a lot. He’s a pleaser, as his coaches are quick to point out.
One thing matters, kid. You know what it is.