BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – The Chicago Bears have a catchphrase to define expectations for quarterback Mitchell Trubisky’s all-important third NFL season: “Steady, incremental progress.”
Trubisky inadvertently made summer headlines when he became the most popular bet (at 200-to-1) to win the league’s 2019 MVP award, according to several Las Vegas sportsbooks, but the Bears are taking a more measured approach to Trubisky’s upcoming year.
“I would say that is the theme for this camp for me and really my career up to this point. ... Rookie season didn’t go the way we wanted it to, but last year, we saw a little bit of progress, and that’s the theme for this camp, just steady, incremental progress,” Trubisky said on Thursday.
“Are we getting a little bit better each day? Are we staying focused on the task at hand? Are we blocking out everything on the outside? Are we doing our jobs? Are we taking care of our guys inside the building? And are we doing the little things on a daily basis? So it’s getting 1 percent better every day, and I think that’s how you separate yourself in the long run, and that is kind of the theme we are going for in this camp.”
Trubisky passed for 3,223 yards, 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and posted a 95.4 passer rating (he also rushed for 421 yards and three touchdowns) during Chicago’s ascension from worst to first in the NFC North, finishing 12-4. The Bears lost a first-round home playoff game to the Philadelphia Eagles, but Trubisky’s overall sophomore campaign was a success.
Yet the 24-year-old quarterback believes he's barely scratched the surface.
“I know I haven’t played my best football yet,” Trubisky said. “That’s kind of my mindset. I don’t think I’ve tapped into the talent I have and what I can do and what I can show out on the field, and it’s just putting it all together, really. The flashy plays that I have made, and the mistakes I have made, just getting rid of those and continuing to make those good plays and just being a more consistent overall quarterback.
“But I think just doing the little things. Working hard, being a great teammate and taking care of your brothers is what is going to help me in the long run and just how I have earned my teammates’ trust, how they respect me as a leader. I can bring people together and get all these guys moving in the same direction so we can reach our goals, and it’s not really about what I can do individually, it’s about what we can accomplish as a team. I think a lot of that is what I bring to the table, how I can lead these guys and how I could help us win games.”
The Bears are determined to reach the postseason in consecutive years for the first time since 2005-2006. For that to happen, Trubisky must be a steadying force on offense while also using his exceptional physical gifts to make game-changing plays. On a team with few question marks -- outside of placekicker -- Chicago’s fortunes could rest on that steady, incremental progress so many in the organization expect from Trubisky.
“Mitch has improved in all areas,” Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson said. “As I said before, speaking in terms of us all, we all had a lot coming into last year. Whether it was playing with new people, we all had new weapons as far as teammates, playing for a new head coach that none of us have played for. I mean, for him, all aspects of what he brings to the table, he's gotten better."