After a tough game last week, Chicago Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky bounced back in a big way.
The second-year signal-caller had by far the worst game of his career even though his team came out victorious, which, Mitch will tell you is all that matters. However, what also matters to the fans is how the team fares against the Green Bay Packers.
Look, let’s level-set for a bit. Prior to this year, the Bears have not been competitive in the NFC North. Without so much as a chance at making the playoffs, fans have circled the Packers games on their calendar each year knowing those would be the highlight of the season.
So there was much angst and excitement over how he would respond to that poor performance with their arch nemesis coming into town. How would Trubisky respond in the biggest game of the season, not only in terms of playoff significance but in psychological magnitude?
Coming into yesterday’s game, Aaron Rodgers had won his last eight starts against the Bears. To say the Packers have gotten the best of Bears lately is an understatement. So even though the Packers were only 5-7-1 and were a longshot at making the playoffs, they always pose a tough matchup.
In other words, yesterday was a huge test for Trubisky — and he aced it. Not only did he pass it with flying colors, but he so drastically outperformed Rodgers, it felt as if we witnessed a changing of the guard at Soldier Field. While Rodgers missed open receivers, Trubisky was on point. Let’s take a look at their respective lines:
- Rodgers: 25/42 (59 percent), 274 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT, 41.5 QBR, 69.0 Passer Rating
- Trubisky: 20/28 (71 percent), 235 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT, 75.6 QBR, 120.4 Passer Rating
But, as I’ve said countless times before, simply looking at stat sheets can be fool’s gold. Relying on stats can often times be misleading or fail to paint the whole picture. Such is not the case here. In fact, the opposite is true, in that Trubsiky played even better than the numbers suggest.
Two specific examples come to mind that demonstrate not only his growth but just how well he played yesterday. Each of them went a long way in dispelling the criticism that Mitch is only effective when he’s executing scripted plays.
The first example came near the end of the first half. The Bears were up 7-3 and appeared to have a drive going until it stalled out at the Green Bay 40-yard line. The Bears were forced to punt and Bears fans undoubtedly thought ‘here we go again.” You could almost see Rodgers marching downfield to put the Packers up 10-7, then getting the second half kickoff with a chance to extend the lead.
However, after a terrific punt by Pat O’Donnell, the Bears defense forced a three-and-out and got the ball back at their own 48-yard line with 1:42 left. At the time, it felt like a critical drive. The Bears needed to come away with some points if only to change the momentum. Well, Trubisky finished the drive 3/4 for 39 yards and a touchdown to put his team up 14-3.
Not only that but two of his three throws showed his maturation. First was his dart to Josh Bellamy displayed the accuracy that he was celebrated for coming out of college, but which has disappeared at times this season. Second, his recognition of the blitz coming off the right side and dumping it off to Tarik Cohen for a touchdown was picture perfect. Take a look below:
Next, was his play in the fourth quarter. Again, Trubisky has received a lot of criticism about his ability to progress beyond his first read and perform once he’s “off script.” But Mitch dispelled that myth as well with his performance in crunch time. The fact is he really stepped up and put the team in position to win late in a critical game.
As you can see from the tweet above, Mitch was 6/8 in the fourth quarter for 61 yards and that crucial touchdown to Trey Burton. Bottom line is he balled out when it mattered, and long after the “scripted” plays ran out.
He calmly went through his progressions and alluded pressure when it came. His ability to sense pressure in the pocket is proving to be uncanny. What was different about yesterday was that in games past, when he sensed that pressure he might be tempted to tuck it and run. Yesterday, he kept his eyes downfield and connected with open receivers.
Both of these examples should have Bears fans coming away from yesterday not only optimistic about this season but the future as well. Mitch is growing up before our eyes, and his play during some of the most critical moments of yesterday’s game makes that abundantly clear.