Mitchell Trubisky watched as the Chicago Bears traded for Super Bowl 52 MVP Nick Foles to compete with him for the starting quarterback job.
He saw the team that drafted him with the No. 2 overall pick in 2017 decline its fifth-year option. And he didn't flinch.
Trubisky insisted he rediscovered his confidence as the Bears essentially gave him a vote of no confidence in the offseason and is ready to tighten his grip on the starting job, beginning with the opener at Detroit this week.
“I just found my confidence this offseason when I figured out it was going to be a competition,” Trubisky said Wednesday.
"I mean, something had to change from last year to this year. I think it was getting healthy, how I trained this offseason, how I approached it mentally. Just talking to my support cast and family and friends and reaching out for advice, I just found my confidence again. At the end of the day, you have to believe in yourself for your teammates and other people to believe in you.
“So I just came in here with a different attitude and mindset and how I’m gonna approach this season. There’s gonna be no regrets.”
But there are plenty of questions at the moment.
Whether Trubisky — or Foles — can solidify the quarterback spot could go a long way toward determining if the Bears rebound from a disappointing 8-8 season.
Trubisky is looking to bounce back after his yards (3,138), completion rate (63.2%), touchdowns (17) and rating (83) declined from 2018. That led to the Bears trading a fourth-round pick to Jacksonville for Foles and declining their option for 2021 on the player they drafted ahead of Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in 2017.
Trubisky beat out Foles after offseason workouts and preseason games got wiped out because of the COVID-19 pandemic. His grip on the top spot appears loose, but he has performed well against Detroit. Trubisky has completed 70 percent of his passes for 1,359 yards and 11 touchdowns in five appearances.
“We want to think positive," coach Matt Nagy said. “We want to score touchdowns and do everything we can. And then if that time ever comes down the road (to make a switch), it comes. But our focus isn’t there.”
Nagy and Trubisky are looking for a quick and smooth tempo on offense, particularly in the early going. Slow starts were a big issue for the Bears last season, when the offense ranked among the NFL's worst.
“I think you’ll be able to see a little pep in our step, a sense of urgency, getting up to the line of scrimmage, an aggressive offense that just looks like it’s clicking on all cylinders, guys who know exactly what they’re doing and they’re playing really hard," Trubisky said.
Errant throws and questionable decisions by Trubisky were a big reason the offense struggled last season, though the supporting cast besides star receiver Allen Robinson didn't help. A partially torn labrum in the quarterback's non-throwing, left shoulder that required surgery after the season also added to his difficulties.
But whether a more confident Trubisky is a more successful Trubisky remains to be seen. So far, the Bears insist they like what they see.
They say he's showing improved footwork and decision-making as well as more leadership and command of the team.
“He had his back against the wall with the Bears not picking up his option and them bringing in another quarterback,” running back Tarik Cohen said.
“That made him have to pick up his ‘A’ game and he took that head on. So he’s not afraid to stay after and call out the running backs like ‘let’s work on this route’ after practice. One day it might be the receivers, ‘Let’s work on this route.’ He just wants to be a perfectionist. And he already had that about himself, but you can just feel that he’s taking it to another level.”
NOTE: LB Robert Quinn (ankle) did not practice Wednesday, and LB Khalil Mack (knee), RB David Montgomery (groin) and WR Cordarrelle Patterson (knee) were limited.
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