Chicago is running Mitch Trubisky out of town for bad quarterbacking at the same time it has decided he’s the hope and savior of the season. That might sound impossible to most people, but to Chicagoans, who have suffered 70 years of bad Chicago Bears quarterbacking, it’s just part of the annual QB dance.
Bears coach Matt Nagy acknowledged Friday that Trubisky will be back as the Bears starter Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers.
And there’s an undeniable air in the city, a softening on Mitch. He might be able to save the Bears season on his way out the door after all.
“If he is going (to start)’’ Nagy told reporters this week. “I have all the confidence in the world in him.’’
No, he doesn’t. Nobody has confidence in Trubisky. Nagy definitely doesn’t. Neither does Trubisky himself. But this is the right move anyway. It’s also the only move.
The Bears have a Super Bowl-level defense in a year when the NFC doesn’t have a Super Bowl-level team. Yet the Bears are stuck at 5-5 after a four-game losing streak. If the Bears could just manage any offense at all, they could take pressure and playing time off the defense and still dream big.
But how did we get here with Trubisky? It started in 2017, when general manager Ryan Pace, hired to give the Bears a modern-day offense with a modern-day quarterback, traded up to take Trubisky in the second pick of the draft, passing over some guy named Patrick Mahomes.
Trubisky didn’t work, but the Bears stuck with him anyway, as Pace needed to save face. Trubisky came back this year talking about his newfound confidence. Nagy talked about his confidence in Trubisky, too. It was beautiful. Then, three games into the season, Trubisky was benched mid-game in favor of Nick Foles, whom the Bears had guaranteed $21 million over three years. At the same time, they allowed Trubisky to reach the final year of his contract without a new deal.
Now, Foles has bombed, too.
So why go back to Trubisky? Here’s why: The Bears are coming off a bye week, and Nagy has said he would look over every last detail of the team and talk with each player.
“I just feel like we have a good pulse on knowing that, big picture, the struggle to run the football is where a lot of this stuff starts,’’ Nagy told reporters this week.
That’s what Nagy came up with? That’s the result of combing through every detail of the team? Chicago has screamed “RUN THE DAMN BALL’’ at Nagy for the past two years. I doubt he can go to the Jewel grocery store without someone yelling that at him. And yet, all he has done is switch from gimmicky passes to normal ones.
The thing is, the Bears have a terrible offensive line, and running back David Montgomery is only OK. Foles might have a Super Bowl MVP in his past, but he cannot outrun a sloth. He also panics. So defenses don’t bother to play the Bears honestly. They ignore the run.
Trubisky can run. According to the Chicago Tribune, the Bears average 5.0 yards per run under Trubisky and just 2.7 under Foles. Meanwhile, the Packers can’t stop the run.
Foles hurt his hip two weeks ago, and the Bears spent the week using that as an explanation for why Trubisky had been running the first-team offense. Reports are that Foles can drop back and throw now, though the Bears have listed him as “doubtful’’ for the game.
Nagy was heading toward Trubisky all week, while Bears fans were demanding it.
So this is it for the Bears, no matter how inaccurately Trubisky throws the ball or how jumpy his feet get any time a defender comes within 10 feet of him. The Bears are two games behind the Packers for first place in the NFC North and still have to play the Packers twice this year.
In other words, it’s now or never for Trubisky. For Nagy. For Pace.
“I’m very impressed with how he’s grown week-to-week,’’ Nagy said about Trubisky. “I mean that.’’
No, he doesn’t. But now Trubisky gets another chance. Chicago has believed in him before, and knows better now.
So this city embraces Trubisky now . . . just as it keeps one foot firmly planted in his backside.