As Chase Daniel’s pass to running back Tarik Cohen went up in the second quarter of the Bears’ 23-16 victory against the Lions, so did Mitch Trubisky’s arms on the sideline.
But as Daniel’s throw grazed Cohen’s hands and bounced through the end zone, Trubisky clenched his fists, covered his mouth with his left hand and hung his head.
Trubisky’s moment of dejection was brief, though. The face of the franchise soon looked up and cheered on Daniel and the offense.
CBS captured Trubisky’s range of emotions on its Thanksgiving broadcast. Rightfully, he was the center of attention even though he wasn’t playing.
Trubisky’s experiences on the sideline soon turned into a conversation point for coach Matt Nagy after the game. The young coach asked his young quarterback how it felt to watch.
“His first words to me: ‘Yeah, it’s different,’ ” Nagy said. “You see different things, and you get it from our perspective as coaches. You get to see what we’re talking about when we talk to you on the sideline. As long as he steps on the sideline, he gets to see what we’re talking about, and then he uses that when he’s back out there. To understand that, that will only help him.”
Translation: The Bears are trying to make the best of a bad situation.
Trubisky is expected to miss his second consecutive game Sunday against the Giants because of his ailing right shoulder, but his development must continue.
The Bears might not need Trubisky to defeat the Lions and Giants, but they will need him in Week 14 against the high-flying Rams and for their playoff charge.
Nothing equates to the snaps Trubisky missed against the Lions and likely will miss against the Giants. He still needs to play to improve. But the Bears have to do what they can to ensure that Trubisky stays on the positive developmental path that he was on before he was injured late in the Bears’ 25-20 victory over the Vikings in Week 11.
In practices this week, he’s going through footwork drills. But Trubisky’s engagement involves more than that.
“Whatever he can do, he’ll do physically,” Nagy said. “And then whatever he can’t do, he’s got to really stay in mentally. That part’s easy for him because he soaks it all up.”
That was apparent in Detroit.
“When I’m not out there, I think my teammates are still looking at me because I’m a leader on this team,” Trubisky said. “I just try to get them going, help in any way I possibly can.”
That’s one way for Trubisky to view his current predicament. Another is doing exactly what Daniel did for him as his backup.
“Obviously, Chase is a well-prepared quarterback,” Trubisky said. “So I’m just trying throughout the last game to talk to him. Throughout the week, just bounce ideas off him. We’re still in the quarterback room like we are every week preparing like any of us could play. We just stick together, continue to dissect the defense we’re going against this week and make sure everyone is prepared.”
Their roles are reversed now, and Trubisky has embraced it. That’s a positive. It’s fair to question if Jay Cutler truly ever did that.
Trubisky said he was very happy to see Daniel complete 27 of 37 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns in Detroit.
“I’m excited for the opportunity he had,” he said. “It was huge for this football team.”
But it’s still Trubisky’s football team. He knows he’ll be needed. Bigger games await the Bears, starting with the Rams on Dec. 9.
“I feel good,” Trubisky said. “I’m definitely not worried about [my injury], and the good news is it’s not something that’s going to prevent me in the long term. We’re just making sure it’s right — 110 percent. And when I can come back, I’ll be what this offense and what this team needs me to be.”