By Greg Gabriel–
(CBS) Bears rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky made his much-anticipated debut at Soldier Field on Monday night. While many Chicago fans were hoping for a storybook ending, the Minnesota Vikings won 20-17 on a last-minute field goal that was set up by a Trubisky interception.
Outside of that game-changing turnover, the Trubisky-led offense had some spark for the first time this season. If not for penalties at inopportune times, the Bears (1-4) may have won this game easily. Running back Jordon Howard had a long touchdown run called back because of a hold, and there were also some long pass receptions negated because of penalty. Struggling teams can’t win with these type of mistakes.
Trubisky’s stats weren’t that impressive, as he finished 12-of-25 for 128 yards, a touchdown and an interception, which came late in the fourth quarter when he underthrew tight end Zach Miller while scrambling right. The Vikings nearly ran out the clock before kicking the winning field goal.
I liked a lot of what Trubisky did. For starters, he was calm and poised. The game never looked too big for him. For the most part, he made good decisions. Trubisky is by far the most athletic quarterback the Bears have had in recent memory, and his ability to play outside the pocket and throw on the run will become a huge advantage for Chicago.
Trubisky has a strong feel for pass rushers and scrambled or stepped up in the pocket to extend some plays with his feet. This is something that we never saw from Mike Glennon. My feeling is that as Trubisky gains more experience, he’s going to become a really good NFL quarterback. The talent is obviously there. As he gets use to the speed of the NFL game, he will improve. Don’t forget that in his debut, he played against a Vikings defense that’s one of the best and most experienced in the NFL. The Vikings threw a lot at Trubisky, and for the most part he responded well.
If Trubisky is going to have success, he needs help. I thought the Bears’ play-calling didn’t consistently play to his strengths, with too many plays from under center instead of from the shotgun. Howard is the main running back, not Tarik Cohen, who’s at his best when used as a complement. Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains has a tendency to overuse Cohen, and that can hurt the flow of the offense.
Yes, the wide receiver corps has been depleted with injuries, but those who are playing also have to step up. There are still too many drops, and they can struggle getting open against man coverage. Trubisky has the talent to win games, but he needs support from his teammates. That means no stupid penalties at inopportune times and no dropped passes.
With the Bears sitting at 1-4, it’s hard to look at positives, but the biggest one is they’ve have found a quarterback who’s capable of becoming a franchise type player. He needs to be surrounded by players who can complement his talent and coaches who can call plays to his strengths.
If that happens, the Chicago Bears can become a winning team again.
Greg Gabriel is a former NFL talent evaluator who’s an on-air contributor for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @greggabe.