Dear prudence: Sitting Mitch Trubisky vs. the Giants would be the smart move
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Mitch Trubisky did not step to the lectern for his regularly scheduled news conference Wednesday, nor did he throw any passes during practice later in the day. Normally, that’s NFL code for “uh-oh,’’ but these aren’t normal times for the Bears. These are good times.
There’s no reason to rush Trubisky back from his right shoulder injury, or at least there’s little pressing need. The Bears play the lowly Giants on Sunday, and Chase Daniel is a comfortable alternative at quarterback, as he proved in a victory over the Lions on Thanksgiving.
That’s the view from atop the NFC North standings, a sunny, foreign place for many of us around here. Bears coach Matt Nagy probably would prefer that we get off our high horse.
It’s true that any NFL team can beat any other NFL team on any given Thursday, Sunday or Monday. But it’s also true that it would be much better for the Bears to have a healthy Trubisky for the rest of the season than to expose him to the possibility of discomfort, or worse, down the stretch.
So, yes, the 3-8 Giants could beat the Daniel-led Bears on Sunday, though I don’t see it happening, not with the behemoth that is the Bears’ defense. If Trubisky’s shoulder hasn’t had enough time to heal, the Giants can make it much worse, should he play. I can see that happening through my coal-colored glasses.
I’d risk the loss of a football game over the loss of a season.
I’d also much rather rest Trubisky for the Giants game and have him ready for a big Sunday night meeting with the 10-1 Rams the following week.
That’s not how coaches think, although how coaches think is not always the measure of sanity. Nagy’s team is 8-3, and he wants to do whatever he can to make sure it’s 9-3 by late Sunday afternoon. So don’t talk to him about sitting anyone with an eye toward the mega-matchup with the Rams.
“That’s where it’s different for us players and coaches,’’ he said. “Every one of these games is just so important, so give me everybody. I want everybody out there, and I don’t care what the situation is. You start doing that, you’re going to be in trouble. That’s not something we’re going to do.’’
But the Bears did rest outside linebacker Khalil Mack and wide receiver Allen Robinson earlier in the season when the two probably could have played through their injuries. The idea was that having healthier players later was more important for the long-term success of the team this season. That would seem to apply to Trubisky, as well.
Erring on the side of caution is better than erring on the side of your starting quarterback’s arm being separated from his shoulder against the Giants.
There’s a chance Trubisky will practice Thursday, but, assuming the Bears are being upfront about all of this, it will depend on how his shoulder feels when he wakes up in the morning. Nagy also said he might not make a decision about his quarterback until hours before the game.
“It’s going to continue to be a day-to-day thing,’’ he said.
He reiterated that Trubisky’s injury is not a long-term problem.
But why tempt fate?
Daniel played well against the Lions (27-for-37, 230 yards, two touchdown passes), especially for someone who didn’t get any full-speed reps with the starters in the short week before the game. He should be better prepared against the Giants, but it works both ways: The Giants should be more ready for him than Detroit was. He had made only two NFL starts before the Thanksgiving game. You won’t confuse his volume of work on film with Liam Neeson’s. But now the Giants have video of the Bears-Lions game.
“I prepare every single day like I’m the starter, whether I get the practice reps or not,’’ Daniel said Wednesday. “We’ll see what it is [Thursday], and we’ll see what it is Friday. But my whole thing this week is take it day by day, try to grasp the game plan day by day and just continue to grow with it.’’
The Bears recently won three games in 12 days, one without Trubisky. It shows that they’re capable of adjusting to challenges that are dumped in their path. So what’s another one?
“It speaks volumes of who we are, personality-wise, chemistry-wise, belief-wise, confidence-wise,’’ Nagy said. “I feel like we’ve come a long way.’’
Keeping Trubisky out one more game to make sure he’s healthy is the wise, prudent move. It might not be the flashiest move. But it’s the right one. The smart one.