As Chicago Sun-Times staffer Jason Lieser suggested Friday, Mitchell Trubisky
is running out of time to prove he’s good enough for the Bears, or any team, to bank on as a franchise quarterback. He regressed across the board this season, and the team has to decide soon whether to pick up an expensive 2021 option and whether he has a future beyond that.
He feels the urgency.
“That’s how the NFL is,” he said. “It’s a dangerous, violent game and there’s only so many opportunities, and only the best of the best play it.”
The Bears have been waiting on Trubisky’s arrival since general manager Ryan Pace traded up to draft him No. 2 overall in 2017. He showed signs he was headed the right direction last season, but little has gone right since.
Trubisky opened with an ugly game against the Packers and, other than brief flashes, couldn’t turn his season around. His 82.9 passer rating ranks
28th of 32 qualifying quarterbacks and is the lowest by a Bear with at least 350 attempts since Jay Cutler
He’ll begin a crucial offseason after the Bears visit the Vikings on Sunday. He did not say whether he’ll need surgery after tearing his labrum in September, but that could hinder his training. He also should be prepared for legitimate competition for the starting job.
But more than anything, Trubisky is motivated by his own poor play.
“Anytime you feel like you’re not playing up to your potential, I think that drives you,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of personal drive and fire within me [and] I know I haven’t played to my potential yet. That’s frustrating, but it’s also something that motivates me a lot.”
Trubisky said he battled discouragement this season, and that’s no surprise after failing to make a meaningful leap.
He dropped from 24 touchdowns in 2018 to 17, his completion percentage fell from 66.6 to 62.6 and his yards per game dipped from 230.2 to 209.4. He has averaged an NFL-low 6.1 yards per attempt. His one improvement has been cutting his interceptions from 12 to 10.
His struggles have taxed his confidence, and Trubisky has had to “count the small victories” to keep himself upbeat.
“It’s a long year physically, and then mentally, yeah, there’s times you’re going to go through that,” head coach Matt Nagy said. “But what I look for is how do you get through it? And I thought he did that.”
Nagy’s notion that Trubisky pulled out of his early-season slump is debatable. The best the Bears looked was during a 4-1 stretch beginning in November, in which Trubisky threw 11 touchdown passes and five interceptions while averaging 244.6 yards and posting a 95.4 rating. He was brutal in the two losses since.
The four victories came against the Lions (twice), Giants and Cowboys — teams with a combined record of 14-30-1. In the other game, a 17-7 loss to the Rams, Trubisky put up a 65.1 rating and was benched late for a murky combination of injury and performance.
That's not to say Trubisky is not without upside tomorrow. If nothing else, he has some great downfield weapons.
caught all seven of his targets for 77 yards when these teams met in Week 4. That production was split pretty evenly between Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander. Minnesota has been good against the slot, but terrible against the perimeter, allowing the second-most fantasy points to outside receivers this season and the most over the past eight weeks.
Robinson aligns all over the formation and should be upgraded.
Minnesota has nothing to play for this week, so Robinson could also get some run against reserves Holton Hill and Kris Boyd.
The same goes for Anthony Miller
, who crashed back to earth with one catch for 2 yards on a pair of targets against Kansas City on Sunday night.
As Clay reminded readers, Miller entered the game having managed double-digit fantasy points in each of his previous five games, totaling eight or more targets in four of those outings. Of course, the rough day was somewhat predictable, as Kansas City has allowed the fewest receptions, second-fewest receiving yards and second-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season.
Miller played all 59 offensive snaps in the game, so it's fair to say he'll be a strong rebound candidate.
One last note here. ... Taylor Gabriel
(concussion) will end the season on the sidelines after being ruled out on Friday.