Mitch Trubisky had his second chance Sunday night, but he groped it. The Packers picked him up and returned him for a touchdown.
They also intercepted a pass in the end zone, then pushed it back a second time for good measure. They challenged the Bears quarterback to follow Aaron Rodgers and left him so far in the dust that most of Trubisky’s stats in a 41-25 loss came during garbage time – although that was a appropriate description of the overall offensive attack.
For perhaps the last time, Trubisky’s deadly sins have been spilled on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field for the entire NFL to see. Comparing him to Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson – two quarterbacks available when Ryan Pace traded for Trubisky’s draft four years ago – seems almost cruel.
As stagnant and ineffective as Nick Foles has been, he’s never committed three turnovers in a single game this season. He had two games in one and one in all the others.
Trubisky reached three sales figures in the middle of the third quarter.
“You’re just not going to win games or participate in games if you flip the ball,” Trubisky said. “And it’s on me. “
Four years after being drafted, Trubisky turns the ball around like he knows no better. Is it overwhelming to Pace, who chose him? Or head coach Matt Nagy, who has watched Trubisky get worse in each of the past three years? Or is Trubisky exactly what some feared the day he was drafted: a great athlete who is unnatural when he’s on the pitch?
Yes, yes and yes.
“Turnover, for us, is what we can’t have,” Nagy said.
Trubisky’s first interception on Sunday night was sheer arrogance. Trailing 13-3, he completed three straight passes for 44 yards. At the Packers’ 38, Trubisky performed a pretense of an I-formation and threw a deep turn towards receiver Darnell Mooney. Trubisky believed that Darnell Savage, the Packers’ security, was playing the role; instead, he spun around as the ball was thrown and broke for the ball like a galloping central defender and caught it in the end zone.
The Packers walked the field and scored to go up 20-3.
In the third and seventh in the Bears’ next practice, Trubisky threw a nice 12-yard shot at Mooney for a first down. The game returned, however, when left tackle Charles Leno was signaled to hold.
Forced to throw the third and the 17th, Trubisky was engulfed in the pocket. Outside linebacker Zadarius Smith sacked Trubisky, who fumbled as he landed face first. Preston Smith, whom Leno had blocked, picked up the fumble on the third rebound and ran 14 yards for a touchdown.
“I have to take away the turnovers, I have to protect the football,” Trubisky said. “This is pretty much the main thing that worries me. I can not put the defense in difficult places. I can’t take offense off the field like that, with sudden changes, and just put the ball in danger.
Nagy said Trubisky’s trial and error was not about being baffled by the take. Trubisky’s face mask was seized twice during the sack; Trubisky said “it would be nice to get a call and take it off the board” but the fumble was his fault.
“It’s my job to hang on to football,” he said. “I have to do that.”
Trubisky spat out another interception – again at Savage, who was one of three defenders covering Anthony Miller as Allen Robinson was open – at third and eleven midway through the third quarter.
It was as unacceptable Sunday night as when Trubisky was a rookie. If he repairs it, he will do so wearing the jersey of another team.
Trubisky had a 26-for-46 pass for 242 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. The three touchdowns the Bears scored came as they lost 24, 31 and 24 points.
The offense actually seemed to make more sense with Trubisky playing instead of Foles. Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor ran the ball more efficiently with Trubisky under the cross. David Montgomery ran for a career 57 yards on the second play of the game.
Trubisky used his athleticism to turn game passes into real wins – until the game got out of hand that a running game seemed ridiculous.
The Bears’ helpless defense meant Trubisky had to be perfect to give them a chance.
This meant the bears had never had one.
Trubisky was asked if he is playing well enough to start next week against the Lions. He wisely refused to lobby.
“I don’t know, I don’t know,” he said. “It was tough, like I said, just because of the turnovers at the start and then the hole.”