Bears believe Mitchell Trubisky ready for postseason

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is his own worst critic on the football field.

Trubisky hasn’t been shy about publicly criticizing his less-than-stellar performances, particularly the second half he played in Week 1 at Green Bay and the three-interception game (33.3 passer rating) he had against the Los Angeles Rams in early December.

In both instances, Trubisky admitted to doing too much, instead of playing within the flow of the offense and letting the game come to him.

How Trubisky handles the pressures associated with making his first career postseason start on Sunday versus the Philadelphia Eagles could determine whether the Bears (the No. 3 seed in the NFC) move on to the divisional round for a rematch with the Rams.

“Those are great learning experiences and just going back and talking it over with coach and really reflecting on what I need to do for my team to put us in a great position to win every single week, and those were instances where I just came back, was critical of myself, watched the film and really figured out how I could change my mindset and do a better job in practice,” Trubisky said on Wednesday. “So it was a good learning experience and I just have to make those adjustments throughout the season.”

Trubisky’s overall body of work in 2018 is best described as "encouraging."

The 24-year-old recorded a quarterback rating of at least 120.0 in four different games, the most by any Bears quarterback in a single season. After passing for just 2,193 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions (77.5 rating) in 12 starts as a rookie, Trubisky’s numbers ballooned to 3,223 passing yards, 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions (95.4 rating) over 14 starts during his second season.

Trubisky routinely used his feet to escape trouble. He rushed for 421 yards and three touchdowns, the fifth-most rushing yards per game (30.1) by any NFL quarterback. Trubisky was also third among league quarterbacks with an average of 6.19 yards per rushing attempt.

While Trubisky expressed regret over how he fared certain weeks, he performed well in several key games, notably Chicago’s division-clinching victory over the Packers (20-of-28 for 235 yards and two touchdowns) and the team’s Week 17 win in Minneapolis in front of a hostile crowd that made for a playoff-like atmosphere at U.S. Bank Stadium.

“We had to make big plays in the second half with guys that you normally don’t get reps with throughout practice,” Trubisky said. “So we had a lot of receivers step up in big situations, make some big third-down catches down the stretch that helped separate us in that game and win.

“I just know the type of locker room that we have, the unselfishness and the willingness to do the thankless jobs on the team, that guys are going to go out there and whenever their number is called upon, they’re going to be ready to make the play. A lot of guys on Sunday did, especially in a harsh environment against a really good team. I’m just looking for more guys to continue to step up as we go on this run.”

Tight end Trey Burton added: "We've seen Mitch show up in some big games this year. He has some of the intangibles that not too many quarterbacks have in this league."

Coach Matt Nagy had a simple message for Trubisky in advance of Chicago’s first postseason game since 2010.

“To not change. For him to continue to do just what he does,” Nagy said. “Don’t put any extra added pressure on himself, don’t do it as coaches. We need to be there to help him.

“Last week [against the Vikings] he had a little taste of it, and I thought he did a great job handling the situation. For all of us, it will be a new situation for us together, for the first time, and I’m looking forward to it.”

So is Trubisky. The young quarterback declined to detail what playoff victories mean in terms of individual legacies, but great quarterbacks are often judged by their postseason records. Leading the Bears past Philadelphia on Sunday would not only tighten Trubisky’s grip on the Chicago’s starting quarterback job for years to come, but further endear him to the city’s suddenly re-energized fan base.

“We're very excited,” Trubisky said. “We're just going to treat it like the other games that we have throughout our season. Obviously we know everything's going to be turned up a notch, but we will be, too. We're going to go in there well prepared, play our tails off, stick together as a family like we have all year and continue to stick to the things that have gotten us to this point. That's what I'm sticking to. And we'll go out there and play as hard as we can.”