Chicago Bears’ Mitch Trubisky After Shaking Off Skepticism: ‘You Can’t Go Back To That Dark Place’by Phil Rogers
Stock in Mitchell Trubisky has never been lower than in late March, when the Bears traded for former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles. But look at Trubisky now.
He not only held onto his QB-1 status throughout an abbreviated off-season and training camp but led the Bears to a comeback victory in Detroit in the 2020 opener. His team was down 23-6 late in the third quarter but wound up celebrating a 27-23 victory on the strength of his three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, including a 27-yarder to Anthony Miller with 1:54 left to play.
While Trubisky likely remains on shorter leash than in his troubling season a year ago, he will take some confidence into Sunday’s Soldier Field opener against the New York Giants. His long-term status with the team that selected him over Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson depends on how he comes out of this season as General Manager Ryan Pace predictably did not exercise the fifth-year option in his contract.
Trubisky opened up about his feelings to NBC’s Peter King in a telephone interview after returning to Chicago from Detroit late Sunday night. He said that after the poor start he focused on the opportunity at hand, not his previous disappointments.
“You can’t go back to that dark place,” Trubisky told King, who quoted him in his Football Morning in America column. “You can’t go back to ‘my stats aren’t any good; it’s happening again.’ At times like that, I find myself focusing on my teammates, the guys you grind with. Our relationships run deep. We lean on each other. And I think you’ve just got to believe in yourself, believe you can do it, there’s still time.”
The Trubisky-Foles competition and decision was the main focus of training camp after the Bears’ 8-8 season a year ago. But Foles has emerged as an asset for Trubisky.
King wrote that Foles was happy for Trubisky after the victory. “What a month we’ve been through!” he reportedly said to Trubisky in the locker room.
Trubisky told King he was thrilled that head coach Matt Nagy gave him the starting job over Foles at the end of camp. With no exhibition games there were few benchmarks to use in measuring their relative performances.
“Coach called me in on a Friday, and he kind of was building up to telling me for a long time,” Trubisky said. “I kind of didn’t believe it at first. I was very detailed in my work. My back was against the wall, obviously, in camp, and all you can do is fight and move forward and show my teammates I can still be the guy. I was quiet, but I was happy. Really happy.
“Playing in the NFL is a dream come true for me. I will never take it for granted. At the same time, I’m totally grateful for Nick. He’s an amazing teammate. Here we are, in this competition this summer, and he’d say to me out on the field: ‘Wow, great throw! Awesome! You’re trusting it now, you’re seeing it.’ He’s given me so many enlightening points. He’s a guy I want in my corner.”
Trubisky will ultimately be judged more on how he plays in upcoming tests against the Vikings and the Packers, not against the reigning cellar-dwellers of the NFC North. He knows it will take a lot to change the negative perception that mushroomed when Mahomes led the Chiefs to a championship while he took a backwards step a year ago.
“I do catch a lot of crap,’’ Trubisky told King. “But like coach says, you’ve got to enjoy the wins in the NFL, and I’m going to. This was a special day. I’m thankful for what I have in life, especially now, with Covid-19 and social injustice everywhere. I’m really grateful just to be playing football right now. The game’s made me a better man, a better person. It’s made me tougher.’’