Bears, Mitch Trubisky stay out of any shell, overcome early mistakes in win over Seahawks

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Mitch Trubisky wasn’t particularly good in the first half of the Bears’ game Monday night against the Seattle Seahawks. He’d thrown two interceptions, didn’t have a completion longer than 18 yards and had thrown at least one seriously inaccurate pass on virtually every Bears possession of a half that left the Bears ahead 10-3 but should have crushed the Seahawks.

And his coach didn’t really care.

“I don’t care about what happens,” coach Matt Nagy said with a bit of force in the wake of the Bears’ 24-17 win over Seattle. “I don’t care if he threw four picks in the first half. I’m not going to change, I’m going to have all the trust in him to lead this offense, and I’ve told him that from the start. And I’ve never backed away from that… .

“If he starts getting into a shell, then we’ll all get into a shell.”

Trubisky didn’t exactly take over the game in the second half. But neither did he go into a shell, and if he wasn’t perfect, he was good enough, completing 12 of 14 passes in the second half for a modest 88 yards, but also without interceptions.

Trubisky lamented after last Sunday’s collapse against Green Bay that he’d come out with a wrong mindset, looking for big plays when consistent plays were what was needed. Against the Seahawks, he delivered those.

“I think we were just methodical,” said Trubisky, who finished with 25-of-34 passing for 200 yards, two touchdowns and a passer rating of 83.0 everything Coach was calling we were just going down the field and staying out of third and longs, just not beating ourselves with penalties or anything. Just sticking together, executing the plays, going out and really mixing it up with the run and the pass and the play-action and all that. And then going down and finishing in the red zone.”

Overcoming shaky start

Nagy said he was pleased with improvements in Trubisky’s footwork, vision down field and his timing for getting the ball out of his hands.

For the second week in a row, however, Trubisky seemed jumpy at times in the pocket, scrambling away from pressure but seldom up in the pocket, and if there were any three-step drops setting up quick throws, they were difficult to discern and rarely with any sort of consistency.

Once the offense moved beyond the first 15 plays scripted by Nagy and coordinator Mark Helfrich, Trubisky’s effectiveness dipped precipitously. The Bears went 107 yards on the first 15 plays, then just 47 on the next 19. Trubisky was 7-for-9 passing in the first 15 plays, then a very sluggish 6-for-11 with 2 interceptions the rest of the first half as Seattle adjusted.

Trubisky struggled with his accuracy early even as his offense was driving 96 yards for a first-possession touchdown. He let loose with one seriously inaccurate throw on each of the first four possessions, with consequences of escalating seriousness:

  • A wild-high throw to running back Jordan Howard on the touchdown drive;
  • A bad overshoot of a wide-open Taylor Gabriel later in the first quarter;
  • In perhaps an over-correction for the overthrows, an interception underthrown in the direction of Allen Robinson, who had two steps on cornerback Shaquill Griffin;
  • A second interception by Griffin off a deflected pass toward Robinson;
  • An incompletion, nearly intercepted, with two receivers available in the deep corner of the end zone.

In each case, Nagy underscored afterwards that those mistakes weren’t the focus. What he did afterwards was.

“We’re on this next-play mentality,” Nagy said, “so I’m really proud with how he handled himself, from play one to the end of that fourth quarter… .

“He didn’t worry about anything, so that’s growth right there.”

Fourth-quarter'ing

Somewhat worrisome before Monday was Trubisky’s continued inability to deliver in fourth quarters. The fourth quarter was his poorest through his 12 games last season both in overall rating and in completion percentage, which was down to 54.3 along with his lowest yards per attempt for any quarter.

Whether because of the new Nagy system or surrounding personnel (both of which were supposed to make him a better quarterback), he had gone slightly backwards in ’18, completing only 45.5 percent of his passes in Green Bay.

On Monday he threw just four passes in the fourth quarter but completed three, for 20 yards and a rating of 125. The plays were short – the Bears had no play longer than 18 yards – but it was not the result of any loss of aggressiveness by a young quarterback who’d had less than distinguished success in previous tipping times.

“Just let loose. Let loose, play free,” Trubisky said. “My teammates and coaches had my back all week. Just try not to put too much pressure on myself and go out there, have fun and enjoy it with the guys and that's what I did tonight.

“So there's going to be something to look at, continue to build and get better but it's a lot of fun to be out there.”

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