BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – Chicago Bears quarterback Mark Sanchez raved about Mitchell Trubisky’s attitude on Thursday, saying the rookie has so far kept his ego in check despite being the second overall pick of the 2017 NFL draft.
“Oh, he’s great. He’s great,” Sanchez said. “The best compliment you can give a rookie is not having to tell him to shut up. Right? Just keep your head down and work, and that’s really been his mentality. And that’s huge. That’s not easy. Especially not coming from where he’s come from and the status you build as a college player. And then the team trades up and drafts you. All of those things. You start to feel a little bit of that. And people are telling you a lot of that. And a lot of guys come in here believing all of that. Really, it’s right to the bottom. Whether you’re starting or not.”
Sanchez can relate. After a stellar junior year at USC, in 2009 Sanchez went fifth overall to the New York Jets, where he started 15 games as a rookie and led the Jets to their first of back-to-back trips to the AFC Championship Game.
But just because Sanchez quickly won the starting job didn’t mean he was immune from the treatment most first-year players receive from veterans.
“I remember flying to divisional games,” Sanchez said. “Playoff games. Championship games. And two hours before the plane takes off, I’m going to like three different places. Popeyes chicken. Quiznos. Wherever. And I’m getting ... As the starter. And I was like, ‘Geez. This is crazy. And there’s Mark Brunell and Kellen Clemens saying ‘Hey dude. Just keep your mouth shut. Do it. Or it’ll be worse.’ It’s just the way it is.
"[Trubisky’s] done a great job. He’s worked hard. Doesn’t say much. And he doesn’t need to. Just keep working, keep learning, keep playing hard.”
Fully recovered from a minor knee injury sustained in OTAs, Sanchez entered camp as the Bears’ No. 2 quarterback, ahead of Trubisky, but behind starter Mike Glennon.
It does not sound like Sanchez expects the quarterback depth chart to change anytime soon. Sanchez signed for only one year, but got $1 million total in guarantees. He could also earn up to $250,000 in additional roster bonuses if he’s on the 46-man game day roster during the season.
“Seeing Dak last year, Mitch this year and myself, Dak played right away, I played right away, it looks like the things are slotted and the way things are going, it's going to be kind of a redshirt year for Mitch, which is fine. Carson Palmer redshirted. There's a million guys who watched somebody else play and then got to play themselves at some point. Some guys got thrown in right away: Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, me, Matt Stafford. There are two arguments and two paths you can go. Is one better than the other? I don't know. Six one way, half-dozen the other. Who knows. I think no matter what, we have a great competition.”
In other words, Sanchez says don’t waste your time searching for a quarterback controversy in Bourbonnais.
“No chance,” Sanchez said. “There’s no chance that happens here. It’s been defined clearly. And that’s what you need. You need it from the top, and it’s already been addressed -- by Ryan Pace, by Coach John Fox. I can’t say it enough. I know you guys have a job to do, and I totally understand. Certain papers sell and some don’t. Quotes and headlines and certain things ... I’ve been around a little bit, like you said, so I know.
"But we’re not going to have an issue. Because Mike’s going to play his butt off. If anything happens, I’ll be ready. If anything happens, Mitch is going to be ready. Connor [Shaw]’s going to push us all. And we have a great room. I like where we’re at. And I like where we’re headed.”