Some quarterbacks don’t want to talk about bad games. Others offer excuses for what went wrong. Give Mitch Trubisky credit. The Chicago Bears QB didn’t hide from the questions or criticisms about his uneven performance in the Sunday night opener against the Green Bay Packers. If anything he was rather frank about it.
Trubisky finished the evening with 174 yards passing, no TD passes and no interceptions. He did rush for a touchdown but also lost a fumble, though that came on 4th down of the final drive when it didn’t really matter. All things considered, it was a rather average night. What got people so upset weren’t so much the poor plays but the plays that Trubisky missed.
After a strong first half in which he looked decisive and aware, he seemed to lose his focus in the second. He looked uncomfortable in the pocket at times and missed a few opportunities where receivers were wide open. Following the game, he admitted he started getting happy feet at times.
A few days later during his weekly press conference, Trubisky explained further.
Mitch Trubisky issues were out of fear of taking a sack or turning it over
It was clear he didn’t believe the atmosphere itself got to him. He thinks it was that his mindset became too conservative at the time. Namely, it was his desire to avoid taking a sack or turning the ball over that led to his frequent decisions to leave the pocket before he should’ve on a number of plays.
“One, it comes from me wanting to take care of the football. And then two, not taking sacks. So yes it helps our offense in some areas but it can also get me into trouble when I’m moving when I don’t need to. So I just got to find a happy medium and, in practice, it’s going to be pocket movement, moving around defenders in the pocket, and continuing to keep my eyes downfield to find receivers. So you try to simulate it as much as possible but obviously the best place to do that is the game.”
That’s a fair assessment. The two primary issues coming from Trubisky’s tape that night were his tendency to leave the pocket too soon and unwillingness to attack the defense more often at the intermediate and deep levels. That conservative nature likely still stems from his time under John Fox last year. It will take some time for him to get over it.
Trubisky learned a vital lesson from his 4th quarter play
Where he was most critical of himself was his execution in the 4th quarter. Even after the Bears had given up the lead 24-23, there was still time for Trubisky to lead the offense towards a winning field goal. Instead they ended up turning it over on downs to cement the loss. He believes it would’ve gone differently had he managed the situation better.
“I think I just wish I would’ve had a little bit different mindset going into that. I was thinking try to make a big play, like, win the game right here when it should’ve been, for me personally, to stack completions. Get one more completion. One more first down. Then once you get that first down, get another first down…
I should’ve had a more ‘completion’ mindset instead of trying to do too much.”
When the final drive started for Chicago, there was still two minutes and 13 seconds left on the clock. More than enough time to get down into field goal range for Cody Parkey. The Bears made it out to their own 46-yard line with 1:18 left. It was here Trubisky got a little too greedy. After an incompletion to set up 2nd and 10, he took a deep shot to Allen Robinson. The situation didn’t call for it and the Packers knew that.
It fell incomplete.
That brought up 3rd and 10 and from there Trubisky could do little in the face of the Packers pass rush. He should’ve looked to shorten the down and distance on 2nd down. He had enough time to throw a quick pass for 4-5 yards or even a run with Jordan Howard. This is the sort of time management and situational awareness that is only won through hard-fought experience. Hence why he called it a “great learning experience” afterward.
The more such instances he encounters in the weeks and months to come, the better prepared he’ll be.