Chicago Bears QB Mitch Trubisky’s monster game could have historical significance
As spectacular as QB Mitch Trubisky’s six-TD performance was in Sunday’s 48-10 rout of the Bucs at Soldier Field, it may hold more significance in retrospect.
“Hopefully this is a day where we look back down the road and say you remember that day where he had that great game,” coach Matt Nagy said, “and it helped catapult him into being a great quarterback.”
While tossing six TD passes to five different receivers, the second-year quarterback threw for a career-best 354 yards in his 16th start. He needed just 26 passes, of which he completed 19 (73.1 percent) for a near-perfect 154.6 passer rating (158.8 is the highest possible), which is nearly double what his career passer rating was coming into the game.
Trubisky didn’t provide the only noteworthy performance Sunday – that’s never going to happen with this Bears defense on the field. But he is the greatest unknown on a first-place, 3-1 team that suddenly has playoff intentions. At least he was before Sunday.
Last year in 12 starts, Trubisky threw seven touchdown passes. Sunday he tossed his sixth of the day before the third quarter was halfway over. In franchise history, only Sid Luckman, who threw seven TD passes in 1943, has ever thrown more in a game than Trubisky. In the first three games this year, Trubisky had two TD passes. He matched that total on Sunday before the first quarter was over.
It’s too soon to say if Trubisky will become a great quarterback, although the many who have already labeled him a bust will surely be less vocal, at least until the Bears play again, on Oct. 14 in Miami following their off week. But, in Sunday’s game, he threw more accurately, with better timing and more confidence than ever before, and it could be the game that proves to be the one in which he turned the corner toward greatness.
“Hopefully, this will be something I can look back on and say, ‘This is where it all started,’ ” Trubisky said. “We’ve got to continue to work hard and stay together, and the sky’s the limit for this team. We’ve got to be smart over the bye week, take care of our bodies and come hungry to work next week. And keep it rolling. It’s awesome to play for this team, and I love these guys in the locker room.”
Trubisky spread the love, and the ball, around while throwing a franchise-record five TD passes in the first half, as each score went to a different player – TE Trey Burton (39 yards), WR Allen Robinson (14 yards), RB Tarik Cohen (nine), WR Josh Bellamy (20) and WR Taylor Gabriel (three). That gave the Bears a 38-3 lead at the break. Trubisky went back to Gabriel for another three-yard TD early in the third quarter.
Nagy said there’s one obvious takeaway from Sunday’s performance for the 2017 second overall draft pick: “The confidence can grow and get a lot higher when you do this,” Nagy said. “He’s going to feel very confident going into this thing.”
But the quarterback’s confidence might not exceed the head coach’s.
“I want him individually just to understand that this is growth for him, and you can see what can happen in this offense, and how you can make this offense greater than it’s ever been,” Nagy said. “That’s more important than anything, is that you’re a huge part of this … when we’re all working together, this is what you can get.”
The Bears’ victory was their third straight, the first time they’ve managed that since winning the first three games of the 2013 season. It was the most points the Bears have scored in a game since a 51-20 victory over the Titans in Tennessee on Nov. 4, 2012, it and dropped the Bucs to 2-2.
It was the second straight game in which the relentless Bears defense forced an opponent to switch quarterbacks. The Bucs went to Jameis Winston after starter Ryan Fitzpatrick, who had thrown for more than 400 yards in an NFL-record three straight games, completed nine of 18 passes in the first half for 126 yards with one interception and a 49.8 passer rating.
It could be a long, long time before the Bears think about switching quarterbacks, but Trubisky was cautious not to make too big of a deal about his big deal of a day.
“Continue to live in the present; don’t dwell on the past,” Trubisky said. “Also, be proud of what you accomplished. But I know I’ve got a lot of work to continue to do in the future. Definitely proud of (Sunday), and my teammates’ efforts, and how we had fun and defended our home turf at Soldier Field. We’re very proud of that.”