‘A great mentor’: A look at what Mark Sanchez provides Mitch Trubisky
Subscribe for unlimited digital access.
Try one month for $1!
Subscribe for unlimited digital access. Try one month for $1!
Rookie Mitch Trubisky’s Tuesday plans wouldn’t work. As offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains explained, the “this, this and this” of Trubisky’s schedule required reorganization.
“These [rookies] don’t know what they don’t know,” Loggains said. “They’ve never done it. This isn’t Chapel Hill. This is the Chicago Bears. This is big.”
Trubisky turned to Mark Sanchez, the Bears’ veteran third-string quarterback who has been inactive every week this season.
“Mark was like, ‘No, clear your schedule. This is what you’re doing: a massage, watch tape with your wideouts [and] you need to watch the blitz tape before the Wednesday morning meeting,’ ” Loggains said. “Mitchell is like a sponge. He just doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.
“That kind of guidance and leadership not just coming from myself and [quarterbacks coach Dave] Ragone — that player-to-player accountability — is huge.”
It’s one of the many examples of why Sanchez is considered a vital cog at Halas Hall. As a former top-five pick who was scrutinized in New York, Sanchez was signed in March weeks before the draft with the future in mind. He’s part of the team’s investment in Trubisky.
“You can’t put a value on it,” Loggains said. “What you don’t get to see is the preparation Monday through Saturday, the value of Mark and what he brings to the quarterback room, the experience of being the guy that was a starter on Broadway.”
• • •
‘‘[The quarterback] and the head coach are the only ones with a win record next to your name. But that’s also what you sign up for. That’s why the contracts are what they are. That’s why you get the ball with one second on the clock. That’s why you’re in charge of a lot, and you carry a heavy burden. That’s what this position is all about.’’ — Sanchez
• • •
Matt Hasselbeck went out early to hold kicks before the Seahawks hosted the Chiefs on Nov. 24, 2002, and he received a nasty welcome.
“[The stadium is] like 10 percent full — and that 10 percent were just booing me to death,” Hasselbeck said. “They kind of crushed my spirit a little bit.’’
But Hasselbeck, now an analyst for ESPN, vividly recalls the conversation he shared with Jeff George in the locker room.
In his fourth NFL season, Hasselbeck replaced Trent Dilfer as the Seahawks’ starting quarterback after Dilfer injured his knee.
To back up Hasselbeck, the Seahawks signed George, the first overall selection in 1990 who was in the twilight of his tumultuous career.
“He was like, ‘What’s wrong, man?’ ” Hasselbeck recalled. “I just told him, ‘You wouldn’t believe some of the stuff people just said to me out there.’ He was like, ‘Oh man, that’s nothing.’ ”
George told Hasselbeck a story from early in his long career.
“There’s a fight up in the stands, and all the guys on the sideline are like, ‘Hey, it’s a fight. Check it out,’ ” Hasselbeck recalled. “He looks up, and it’s his family just throwing haymakers to all the people sitting around them.”
Together, they laughed.
Emotionally, Hasselbeck felt better.
“It was at a time when I wasn’t sure if I could play,” Hasselbeck said. “I went out that day. We ended up winning the game. I set career bests, I think franchise records.”
The Seahawks beat the Chiefs 39-32 and won four of the last six games. The next season, Hasselbeck started every game, and the Seahawks went 10-6. That year, he also was named to his first Pro Bowl.
“I don’t think people around the league are thinking, Jeff George, quarterback mentor,” Hasselbeck said. “But Jeff George was a huge quarterback mentor for me.”
And that’s why Hasselbeck is a fan of the Bears’ decision to sign and keep Sanchez around.
“I actually love that they’re over-investing in the quarterback position,” he said.
To Hasselbeck, all of Sanchez’s experiences — good and bad — can benefit Trubisky and Mike Glennon, the Bears’ starter-turned-backup.
Sanchez went from the fifth overall pick for the Jets in 2009 to being the Day 1 starter for a team that reached the AFC Championship Game his first two seasons to suffering his notorious “Butt Fumble” against the Patriots to becoming a veteran journeyman.
The Bears’ research of Sanchez told them that he was a positive influence on Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott during his rookie season last year.
“The guys in my career that meant the most to me weren’t always the guys who had a ton of success,” Hasselbeck said. “Sometimes it’s the guy who had experiences, and I learned from those.”
• • •
‘‘It’s more over time and being consistent with the way we try to help [Trubisky], with the way we talk, the way we coach and encourage him. When you’re consistent over time, and then you have a little bit of success, it’ll develop trust in what we’re doing, and then you’ve got something. Then you’re growing.’’ – Sanchez
• • •
When Hasselbeck backed up Colts quarterback Andrew Luck for three years, he saw a young player who didn’t need much assistance. So he turned his attention to those around Luck.
Hasselbeck focused on the backup center, wide receivers and tight end — players who would be needed at some point. He prepared them for Luck.
“It’s things like that a veteran quarterback can do to help a young guy,” Hasselbeck said.
In a way, Sanchez is doing the same.
New receiver Dontrelle Inman said he had plans to throw and go over the Bears’ routes with Sanchez in the Los Angeles area, where the two will be for the bye week.
It’s part of Sanchez’s behind-the-scenes value. He is preparing Inman for Trubisky.
There’s more, too. During games, Sanchez goes over scripts, coverages and situations with Trubisky. In meetings and practices, he’s a sounding board for coaches.
“To bounce some things off him [and] to get the temperature of some things in terms of what’s being said [among players] and how we could make something better,” Ragone said, “he’s been great with that.”
With Loggains, that also means being a buffer.
“If I’m about to come down on Mitchell, I’m like, ‘Hey, did you see that?’ and he’s like, ‘Ah, yeah, but just remember he’s young,’ ” Loggains explained.
“Or if I’m too hard, he’ll grab me and be like, ‘You went a little hard there.’ Or, ‘Hey, he can handle it. Get him.’ He has a good understanding of what just happened.”
• • •
‘‘There’s a lot of narratives out there [for quarterbacks], and you have to be very cautious not to take them when they sound good or let them affect you when they sound bad because that can kind of push you off course. It’s tough. It’s a laserlike focus, and it’s not easy to handle.’’ — Sanchez
• • •
Before players broke for the bye week, the Bears held practice Tuesday and Wednesday. Sanchez had a message for Trubisky.
“He provides that juice I need — [you] can never be down, everyone’s looking at me. He continues to remind me of that,” Trubisky said. “When everyone’s looking to relax or go spend time with their family, he’s like, ‘Hey, Mitch, got to bring juice to practice this week. If you bring the juice, then everyone else is going to be practicing well.’
“That’s why we had two good days of work [before the bye week]. He’s like that in all other areas to help me out. That’s been huge.”
Trubisky called Sanchez “a great mentor” — though it’s a spotlight Sanchez doesn’t seek. He wants his behind-the-scenes efforts to remain that way.
But Trubisky and his coaches beam when asked about him.
Being a veteran mentor was a role the Bears explained to him from the beginning.
And Sanchez has done more than embrace it; he’s living it.
“He has taken his satisfaction from: ‘I’m into the team; I’m doing this for the team; I’m doing it for Mitchell. I’m doing it for the QB room,’ ” Loggains said. “That’s hard. But he’s just wired the right way.
“It’s when you pick a guy as a backup to fulfill that role and to keep three [quarterbacks] — when everyone doesn’t keep three — they better be that way because if there’s any selfishness, they can’t do it.”
Follow me on Twitter @adamjahns.