By Chris Emma—
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) – Looking ahead to the opportunity that finally arrived, Bears rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky holds no apprehension.
Coach John Fox noticed the quiet confidence early on with Trubisky, the 23-year-old No. 2 overall pick carrying such high expectations. He’s a straight line, Fox has said. He always has been.
“You only get nervous or feel pressure when you’re not prepared for the situation or you don’t know what you’re doing,” Trubisky said Tuesday at Halas Hall, referencing the advice of his high school quarterbacks coach.
Trubisky will make his NFL debut against a tenacious Vikings defense next Monday. He will have to identify Eric Kendricks pre-snap, withstand the rush of Everson Griffen and spot where Harrison Smith lurks in coverage.
Trubisky needs to bring another dimension to an offense that defenses didn’t fear. Mike Glennon couldn’t open up a clogged box, which made life difficult on running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. Even with Markus Wheaton and Kendall Wright as his top targets, Trubisky must bring greater function to the offense.
The Bears hope to see growth as Trubisky works toward long-term success. But right now, they just want to see better.
“Obviously, the way you really improve is game experience,” Glennon said. “That’s what he’ll get now. I’m sure there’s going to be some ups and downs because it is an adjustment playing in a real NFL game. But he’s definitely a talented player that I think has a bright future in the NFL.”
Added Fox: “It was time. I think he’s ready.”
Trubisky claims to be unaware of the hype surrounding his beginning with the Bears, and he may not be bluffing. He deleted Twitter from his phone and tries to stay away from reading headlines — which have been calling for this day to come as Glennon struggled as the starter and Trubisky ascended.
Trubisky took zero first-team reps in the short week leading up to a loss at Green Bay last Thursday, which would prove to be Glennon’s last stand. Trubisky had also taken “very few” reps in total with the starters prior to that, Fox said. This week, he will take all the snaps with the first unit as the Bears ready him during a long week.
There was a different buzz around Halas Hall on Tuesday as Trubisky took over as the starter. Perhaps it was guided by the performance of Texans rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson, who threw for 283 yards and four touchdowns in a blowout win over the Titans on Sunday. The Bears traded up to the second pick because they wanted Trubisky over Watson and every other available quarterback.
“It doesn’t put pressure on me,” Trubisky said. “Everyone has a different game and everyone has a different situation. (Sunday’s performance) didn’t surprise me at all because I know what kind of player and person Deshaun is. The big stage isn’t going to faze him or myself.”
The Bears have longed for a franchise quarterback of their own. Over the last 25 years, they’ve been haunted by the likes of Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay and watched from afar as Tom Brady collects championship rings in New England. Bears general manager Ryan Pace has a ring of his own thanks to what Drew Brees brought to the Saints.
Pace was bold enough to make this move for Trubisky – one widely criticized that night in late April – because he believed the Bears would finally have a franchise quarterback of their own. It could bring a new era for a franchise mired in futility or just the latest false promise and failed Chicago quarterback.
The stakes are high for Monday night at Soldier Field, but Trubisky isn’t feeling the heat. He has been preparing for this moment.
“Play the game I know how to play,” Trubisky said. “I’ve been playing this game for a long time, so I’m going to go in there and be myself, and the pressure shouldn’t be anything what everyone else makes it out to be.”