By Chris Emma–
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) — During his days in Chapel Hill, it was so rare that Mitchell Trubisky would throw an incompletion that Tar Heel teammates were genuinely surprised when it happened.
Mistakes are part of growth for a young quarterback, and the rookie Trubisky has learned to embrace them during his first month of practice with the Bears. Those incompletions and even interceptions offer lessons on the film.
He takes them in stride.
“I’m studying a lot,” Trubisky said Tuesday. “I’ve put in more work on this playbook than I’ve put into anything in my life. And, yeah, it’s coming along great. I’m getting more and more comfortable. I’ve seen strides in different areas every day. That’s what it’s all about.”
Trubisky was selected second overall by the Bears in the NFL Draft in April, with the Bears refusing to take any alternative. Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson was a two-time Heisman finalist who won a national championship in January. He went 10 picks after the Bears moved up to select Trubisky. Chicago just had to have him.
Consider it an understatement to say Trubisky has a long way to go. That’s natural, given he has started just 13 games at North Carolina since being named Ohio’s Mr. Football as a senior at Mentor High School.
But the Bears weren’t interested in accolades when drafting Trubisky. They saw the talent in that arm and dedication in a driven 22-year-old. Now, football is a career for Trubisky, and he’s preparing as such.
“Taking care of your body, studying all day, all night, right before you go to bed,” Trubisky said. “It’s all about blocking out distractions and how good you want to be. It’s all about how much time you want to put in. So, for me, it’s been a huge focus. Block out everything else and just come here and do my job.”
Trubisky’s work with the film looks at every detail of each play. During a recent practice, he reverted to muscle memory with his college dropback. That stood out on film, so Trubisky began reviewing his NFL footwork. Many aspects of his North Carolina offense carry over. He’s accustomed to going through two, three or four reads on any given play.
But the Bears’ offense is vastly different from what Trubisky ran at North Carolina. His pre-snap responsibilities are essential for the other 10 players lined up. He must be precise with every detail. It could make or break the play.
As if the diagnostics and execution of each play wasn’t enough, there’s new terminology for Trubisky to learn, too. Then comes the part where teammate Pernell McPhee chases him.
“I can throw the football and do all the stuff that comes natural,” Trubisky said. “It’s just mastering the offense and being in charge at the helm of the offense. That’s where I need to continue to grow. That takes time.”
For now, the plan is to have Trubisky take 2017 as a redshirt season. Mike Glennon is the Bears’ starting quarterback — “This year is my year,” he has said over and over again — and the team hopes he performs to that level. Mark Sanchez will work as the backup once he returns from a knee injury, which is expected by training camp.
Trubisky has assumed the second-team reps with Sanchez sidelined in OTAs. The Bears would prefer him to spend this season learning and adjusting to the NFL level. Whether he remains sidelined for the entire year remains to be seen. Development is the top priority for Trubisky in 2017.
After all, the Bears selected Trubisky to be their franchise quarterback. They hope he can lead the organization to sustained success.
Every pre-snap read, dropback and even those incompletions are part of the growth of a young quarterback.
“It’s football,” he said. “It’s what I was born to do. I just got to come out here, keep learning, keep getting better every day. I would say it’s pretty natural, but there’s still so much more I can learn, so much more I can study and so much more I can improve.
“I’m here to help the team win. It’s an exciting time. I’m very blessed to be in the situation I’m in. Now, it’s my job to go to work and do whatever I can for the team.”