Chicago Bears fans have been waiting to utter the words “starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky” since Mike Glennon’s second pass with the team went for a pick-six on the preseason’s first offensive possession.
Of course, the waiting ended when the Bears let Trubisky start the team’s fourth (and final) preseason game on Thursday, but all that really did was lead to more waiting: Trubisky didn’t attempt a single pass until after the team ran the ball nine straight times, finishing with three consecutive three-and-out possessions.
Certainly, that’s one unique way of bringing along your prized quarterback prospect.
But honestly, it would’ve all been fine if that’s how things ended. However, a funny thing happened on the way to the Soldier Field clocks hitting 0:00.
The Bears’ plan to protect Trubisky came to an end late in the fourth quarter when Connor Shaw exited twice with injury. Trubisky entered the first time after referees sent Shaw into concussion protocol, but he would return in short order. Shaw’s stay didn’t last long, though, as he quickly suffered a leg injury while attempting to elude a Cleveland Browns defender. Once again, Trubisky was thrust into action. But unlike in the first quarter where the Bears asked Trubisky to do nothing more than hand the ball off, he actually dropped back to pass.
The results were nerve wracking. Not only did the Bears take a timeout with 11 seconds left in a game they were losing 25-0, they opened up Trubisky to a late-game licking. Indeed, the Bears quarterback of the future took a couple of late-game hits, including a game-ending sack.
So, how did head coach John Fox respond when asked about the end-of-game script change:
Bears coach John Fox, on Mitch Trubisky throwing and getting hit in the fourth quarter: "Any time you go out there, it's a risk."
— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) September 1, 2017
Creating a late-game situation for the young quarterback isn’t a completely crazy idea, but to do it at that point of the game – after sticking to a game plan that preached protection for the better part of 58 minutes – felt questionable for a player who will ultimately be the most important to what the team hopes is a bright future.
It’s clear the plan created by Fox and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains was to get Trubisky in situations that couldn’t be simulated on the practice field. Thursday’s episode of The Mitch Trubisky Show featured the No. 2 overall pick calling plays in a huddle, handling the center-quarterback exchange, executing hand-offs from under center, and getting a first-hand look at defensive fronts designed by one of the NFL’s best defensive game-planners … all without risking injury while attempting a pass.
To be fair, protecting the franchise’s most valuable asset is a good plan rooted in sound thinking. But why they didn’t stick with it is what’s called the team’s decision-making into question (especially when it wouldn’t have even been on the radar had they stayed the course).