The Bears and Mitch Trubisky believe the rookie quarterback is ready to make his first career start Monday against the Vikings. The truth is, though, no one knows for sure.
Before he took every first-string snap in practice Tuesday, he’d taken so few reps with the starters that the Bears were hesitant to play him in the waning minutes of their disconcerting 35-14 loss to the Packers on Thursday.
Ready or not — one man’s inexperience is another’s blank slate — Trubisky’s start Monday offers hope for a franchise whose last all-world quarterback retired in 1950.
“My quarterback coach from high school, he actually told me one time, ‘Pressure only appears when you’re not prepared for something,’ ” Trubisky said. “So that’s kind of how I feel pressure.
“You only get nervous or feel pressure when you’re not prepared for the situation — or you don’t know what you’re doing.”
The No. 2 overall pick in April, Trubisky was supposed to spend the season on the bench until Mike Glennon struggled and the rookie impressed the Bears with his quick development — in that order of importance.
“I thought he had an outstanding camp,” said coach John Fox, who told Trubisky of his promotion Sunday night. “He got to play through four preseason games. We got to watch him in practice in preparation for the first four regular-season games. I thought he made great strides, even through camp, being new to our offense.
“Just felt like he was kind of ready for the next step.”
The Bears were swayed in part by the luxury of a 10-day window between Thursday’s loss and Monday’s game.
“The timing works out pretty well, too, as far as his preparation,” Fox said. “Will he make mistakes? I’m sure. But I think he’s ready for it, and we’ll see how he responds. I think he’ll respond well.”
Trubisky, who ran practice-squad snaps the last four weeks, said he has grown since the Bears traded four picks to move up one spot to draft him. He has seen more three-man fronts than he ever did at North Carolina, and he has improved in learning protections and throwing to hot routes when blitzers come. He has a better idea of when to change the blocking assignments and when defenses are rotating.
Still, he’ll have a major learning curve. Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains can help him Monday by ostensibly cutting the field in half. On rollouts and play-actions, he’ll have fewer decisions to make. At the least, Trubisky’s athleticism and accuracy while throwing on the run will give the Bears’ run-first offense a new element for defenses to handle.
“Mike was able to do a little more complex, intricate things within the offense — and then I’ll do a little more basic things,” Trubisky said. “Move the pocket a little bit more or just simple things that allow me to play to my strengths and move through progressions and make plays on my own.”
Trubisky — who said in one breath that he had a “gunslinger’s mentality” but also wanted to be “methodical” — has felt his teammates rally around him all year, not just Tuesday.
“They’ve seen what I can do throwing the ball, running around, creating plays and just really doing my job,” he said. “Staying within the offense and being myself and just moving the team and trying to be that spark for the offense.”
The man he replaced sees it.
“I think he has the skill set. He just has to go out there and play,” Glennon said. “He belongs, he’s good enough.
“He just has to have confidence in himself because he’s good enough.”
The Bears will begin to find out just how good Monday.
“I feel like I’m ready,” Trubisky said.
Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley.