The Chicago Bears need Mitchell Trubisky to be more than his current self. On Sunday night, he gave glimpses of what potential lies within.
When the Bears’ defense was on the field Sunday night, it was pure madness. The Bear Raid siren blared. The capacity crowd stood as one. The noise, and the expectations, were deafening.
When the offense came on, the energy drained. Every butt found a seat. Every hand became a clenched ball. When Mitchell Trubisky dropped back, an incompletion was great. Better than an interception.
All that changed in the fourth quarter in the NFC Wild Card game against Philadelphia. Trubisky became confident and daring, throwing for 96 of his 303 yards with a go-ahead touchdown in the final frame. When Chicago fell behind, 16-15, with 48 seconds on the clock, Trubisky rose up. The second-year man drove the Bears to the brink of a defining win.
Doink. Doink. The sight and sound of Cody Parkey’s missed field goal attempt that will forever be the lasting image of the contest.
It shouldn’t diminish what Trubisky did. For three quarters, the former second-overall pick was tentative. He was repeatedly late on his throws, especially over the middle. He appeared not to trust his eyes. In short, Trubisky looked scared of the moment.
Then with the crucible at its hottest, the man who had 60,138 paralyzed by fear turned Soldier Field into an ally. The Bears began moving downfield. They were getting chunk plays.
“I think he has a real good feel for the two-minute situation,” Chicago guard Kyle Long said. “He does a real good job commanding the huddle and even when he go no-huddle of being a field general at the line of scrimmage. He does a great job of making his reads and making his throws as you saw in the fourth quarter … When it comes time to deliver, he does it. I’m really proud of Mitch.”
Chicago lost the game, but it won the proverbial war if Trubisky found himself in the night.
The Bears are a young team. Their best days should be ahead of them. Chicago isn’t a group facing its final chance at glory. It’s a team that should improve even without a first-round pick in the upcoming draft.
In the postgame locker room, they seemed to sense that. Bobbie Massie bumped into yours truly while Long was responding to a question. He dutifully apologized without a reason to. A few lockers away, Trubisky dressed quietly in an impeccable three-piece suit. He looked forward, chin up, buttoning his vest from top to bottom.
“It’s tough,” Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “We are so used to running back in here with the lights and disco balls. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. We walked into the room with the lights on and mouths closed and nobody laughing.”
There was no sense of a funeral as one might have expected under the circumstances. It felt like school letting out for the year. They will miss their friends and some will move to other places, but in a few months, most will reconvene.
When they do, they’ll have reason to believe. Not in the way an NFL team does when it knows it must play perfect to win. The way a team does when it knows it can win despite being imperfect … because it has a quarterback.
The fans already understand this. Come the fourth quarter, they were out of their seats when Trubisky looked to throw.
The fear was gone.