By Nick Shook
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John Fox needed just one month to move on from his bridge quarterback to his team’s future.
His explanation was simple:
Trubisky trots into the starting lineup in a bear of a situation (pun unintended), a home game against a menacing Minnesota Vikings defense (T-9th in the NFL in sacks with 11) on Monday Night Football. The moment won’t be too big for him, he said.
“You only get nervous or feel pressure when you’re not prepared for the situation,” Trubisky told reporters Tuesday. “I’ve been playing this game for a long time, so just go in there and be myself and the pressure shouldn’t be anything but what everyone else makes it out to be.”
Trubisky was selected second overall in the 2017 draft out of North Carolina, but entered a quarterback room filled with new arrivals in Mike Glennon and Mark Sanchez. Glennon, a recent addition via free agency on a three-year deal, manned an offense that struggled through the first four games of the season, with the quarterback posting a line of 93-of-140 passing for 833 yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions (passer rating of 76.9). It produced a 1-3 record.
That wasn’t enough for coach John Fox, who needs some wins to validate his employment.
“At the end of the day, it’s about performance,” Fox said, “and ultimately that’s what we make decisions on.”
Glennon was open about his performance not meeting Fox’s expectations.
“I played well enough to win in two, didn’t play well enough to win the other two,” Glennon said Tuesday. “Obviously, turnovers were very critical, but I’m going to stay ready and be ready to go because I’m only one play away and I’ll continue to help Mitch in any way I can.”
Still, football is an 11-man game. Not everything falls on the quarterback. Chicago, which ranks 23rd in the NFL in total yards per game and 27th in passing yards per game, needs better play from everyone on its roster.
But quarterback is the most important position on the field. Receiver Markus Wheaton said as much, calling the change to Trubisky “like hitting the reset button.”
Trubisky brings a higher level of athleticism and mobility to the Bears‘ offense, which could open things up for the struggling group, but much less professional experience. The prime-time game will be quite the challenge for him — Chicago was abysmal in its prime-time appearance last week on Thursday Night Football. The roster around him and the division in which Chicago plays — the surprisingly competitive NFC North — also won’t make things easy for the rookie. A reliance on the Bears‘ run game, the offense’s lone bright spot thus far, will be very necessary to make the transition smooth.
“He has the skill set,” Glennon said of Trubisky. “He just has to go out there and play. … He belongs. He’s good enough.”
Whether Glennon is correct on that last point remains to be seen. For Chicago, there’s no turning back now — only charging toward the future.