Yeah, you read that headline right. I was not referring to the division-rival Vikings, who defeated the Bears, 20-17, on Monday night. I was referring to the Bears ruining rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky’s NFL debut.
Let’s be clear from the outset that Trubisky did not play a flawless game. But who expected that he would? He’s a rookie quarterback playing with a flawed roster. Heck, even if he had the Chiefs’ roster at his disposal, he would have made his mistakes.
Yes, he misfired on a few passes. He made a few questionable throws across his body. His touchdown pass was tipped in the end zone — and although I had no doubt in my mind that the ball was not going to be intercepted, critics would want to argue otherwise. His final stat line included 12-of-25 passes completed for 128 yards, a touchdown and an interception and a 60.1 passer rating — hardly the gaudy numbers that too many fans expect to see and use as a litmus test in this era of fantasy football.
And, most importantly, he threw an ill-advised pass late in the fourth quarter that was intercepted and which essentially sealed the victory for the Vikings.
But if anyone thinks that these mistakes suddenly disqualify Trubisky from being the future of the Bears, they have another thing coming. For anyone who uttered under his breath, “Just another Mike Glennon or Jay Cutler,” I’d caution you not to be so quick to dismiss the rook. And for anyone who let loose, “Should’ve picked Deshaun Watson,” … well, I’d urge you to just stop watching.
With the bad out of the way, let’s talk about the good.
From the jump, Trubisky was mobile, he extended plays with his legs, he felt and fled pressure in the pocket, he completed passes through tight windows, he found the open receiver, he read the defense well and most importantly is he moved the chains.
The interception was on him. Chalk it up to a rookie mistake from a guy trying to make a play. The fumble he lost was due to a strip sack, with the blame solely on the shoulders of left tackle Charles Leno.
The Bears did not help Trubisky succeed last night. The receivers continued dropping passes. The offense was penalized six times in the first half, including one that nullified a touchdown run by Jordan Howard. The play calls were slow getting onto the field — which, in fairness, we do not know if that was on Trubisky or offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains.
In general, I was not altogether alarmed by such stagnation because, as I’ve expressed from the outset, this game was never about beating a divisional opponent and getting back into the playoff race. It was about Trubisky’s development and, at the very least, these dropped passes, penalties and turnovers were good adversity for Trubisky to face.
I’m not really sure what Bears fans expected to see last night, but I was quite pleased by how Trubisky played. This is exactly why the Bears needed to play Trubisky this season. Right now. If the Bears decided to ride out Mike Glennon for the remainder of this season and instead allow Trubisky to make his debut next year, he would have been committing those “rookie mistakes” for the first month of the 2018 season. And then, the Bears would have been going through yet another rebuilding season.
Why do that to themselves or their fans? Why not let Trubisky develop on the field, to commit those mistakes and learn from them this year, when it’s clear they’re not really in contention for anything?
I’d rather Trubisky begin next season with some confidence, knowing that he belongs in the league and knowing how he needs to prepare week-in and week-out to be a pro and win games. Next year is not the time for him to be ironing out problems that can and should be addressed this season.
For now, the next real test is to see how Trubisky handles his game-clinching turnover and how he progresses from Game 1 to Game 2.