By Chris Emma–
CHICAGO (CBS) — With 11 seconds remaining in Thursday’s preseason finale, Bears coach John Fox called a timeout trailing the Browns, 25-0.
Rookie Mitchell Trubisky, the future of this franchise, was forced back into action after the only other quarterback available, Connor Shaw, suffered a hamstring injury. Trubisky had handed off the football in his first nine plays of the game, but with nothing to gain in this exhibition, Fox elected to use his final timeout and throw the ball with Trubisky.
Trubisky got hit on a screen pass with a little over a minute remaining, then was sacked on the final play of the game. It was a risky move by Fox that surely had general manager Ryan Pace sweating.
“Any time you go out there, it’s a risk, truth be told,” Fox said after the game.
“Football’s a rough game, there’s no doubt. You never want to see people get hurt. But it is part of the game. And, so, I don’t know that we exposed Mitch a whole lot. But I can say, anytime you drop between those lines, you’re exposed.”
The second overall pick in April’s draft, Trubisky was forced back onto the field twice in the fourth quarter. The first time came after Shaw was pulled away to be evaluated for concussion by an independent doctor, then again when he suffered the hamstring injury. Reserve quarterback Mark Sanchez wasn’t available for action, Fox said, despite having practiced with the team Tuesday at Halas Hall.
It was a risk for Trubisky to be back on the field and one that could’ve been mitigated by handing the ball off — or even just taking a knee and letting the clock run out on the preseason. Trubisky wanted to throw the football, Fox said, after he went just 2-of-4 for 10 yards in the first half.
The coaching staff obliged, with Fox calling a timeout and letting Trubisky attempt passes. He only had one more pass registered. Then came the final play, with Trubisky sacked as the pocket caved in on him. Those few remaining at Soldier Field held their breath as Trubisky rose quickly to his feet.
Why not run the ball? Fox wasn’t having any of that question.
“It’s going to be fair to say it won’t be the first time he’s been hit,” he said. “It won’t be the last.”
The Bears played it safe with Trubisky during the beginning of his night. He handed the ball off on the first nine plays from scrimmage, with the Bears forced to punt on those three series. Fans at Soldier Field booed as he handed off for the eighth consecutive play. He then did so again on the next snap.
A bronx cheer went through the building on the moment Trubisky dropped back for his first pass of the game, first down on his fourth series. Then came the pass, a toss to the flats dropped by Josh Rounds.