How will Mitch Trubisky handle the spotlight of his first playoff game?


Following his worst game as a pro, Mitch Trubisky played some of the best football of his career to end the 2018 season. There’s something to that, in a lesson learned by a second-year quarterback that the Bears believe will pay off come Sunday’s playoff opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. 

Trubisky, returning from a two-game absence due to a shoulder injury, completed just 16 of 30 passes for 110 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions on Dec. 9’s Sunday night game against the Los Angeles Rams, good for a passer rating of 33.3 and a miserable 3.7 yards per attempt. Trubisky admitted after the game he tried to do too much, leading to a rash of forced throws and poor decisions — the kind of things that could be the Bears’ undoing in a playoff game, even if they weren’t that night. 

But after that win over the Rams, Trubisky hit a reset button of sorts and compiled three solid, efficient games to end the season. In those games, he completed 76 percent of his passes for 644 yards (7.8 yards/attempt) with three touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 109.7. He efficiently marched the ball downfield on extended drives, including a 16-play, 75-yard grind against the Minnesota Vikings, while also hitting a pair of deep shots to Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel. 

Trubisky’s average stat line in those three games reads like a blueprint for the Bears beating the Eagles on Sunday: 21/28, 215 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions. 

“He did a good job at self-reflecting as to how he thought that he played,” coach Matt Nagy said. “And that’s what’s so nice about him being a young kid that has been able to take a step back and say okay, what could I have done better. And he started with himself.”

The Bears have the NFL’s best defense, one that should be trusted to go into any environment against any opponent and get winning results. That means Trubisky doesn’t need to be a hero; he just needs to be a supporting player in what the Bears hope will be a deep playoff run. The time for Trubisky to be the catalyst for playoff wins may come, as he and Nagy build through experience. But that time is not now, not this weekend. 

But that also doesn’t diminish what Trubisky, Nagy and Bears players believe they can accomplish as a offense in January’s bright spotlight. 

“We all have our trust in him,” running back Tarik Cohen said. “We’ve seen him make the best of plays when times didn’t look so bright. Just the things he can do with the ball, his arm and including his feet, it’s amazing to watch. That’s why we have tremendous trust in him.”

The Eagles’ defense will present a challenge for Trubisky to, again, stick to playing within himself and not trying to do too much. While Jim Schwartz’s defense is allowing 269 passing yards per game (30th in the NFL) and only has 10 total interceptions (25th), they’re allowing 6.4 yards per passing attempt (13th) and limit opponents to third down conversions on 35 percent of their attempts (6th). They’re also the best red zone defense in the NFL, allowing touchdowns on just 45 percent of opponents’ trips inside the 20. 

But based on what the Bears have seen from Trubisky over the last three games — which includes a strong showing against a top-five Vikings defense on the road — there’s plenty of confidence within the walls of Halas Hall in the quarterback’s ability to help the Bears advance past the Eagles and earn a re-match with the Rams. 

“I think we’re going to continue to do what got us to this point and that’s be aggressive, stay hungry, stay humble, play aggressive football, and go for it,” Trubisky said. “As far as I’m concerned, we have nothing to lose. We’re going to lay it all out there.”

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