By Chris Emma—
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) – One week into his time as an NFL starting quarterback, Bears rookie Mitchell Trubisky called a play in practice and watched his veteran offensive line break the huddle.
Trubisky wasn’t pleased. Out came four-letter words and the intensity that has struck Bears teammates ever since his arrival with the team. He rounded his linemen back and broke the huddle himself.
“When I’m in the huddle,” Trubisky said, “it is my huddle, and that’s how it needs to operate.”
Respected players like guards Kyle Long and Josh Sitton took notice of the 23-year-old Trubisky and his sharp edge. They absolutely loved it.
But this wasn’t a one-time occurrence or Trubisky having a bad day. It happened again last week during preparations for the Packers. The play was called and the huddle broke before Trubisky was ready. Once more, the strong language came out.
“That’s what we need,” center Hroniss Grasu said. “That’s what we love to have. We’re very lucky and fortunate to have Mitch on our team.”
Receiver Dontrelle, a newcomer, Inman had seen Trubisky’s body of work watching both his play at North Carolina and in Chicago. It wasn’t until he got in that huddle when he realized there’s something more to the kid.
“He’s a stud,” Inman said Sunday after his first game with Trubisky. “He commands the huddle. It’s great just having him as a leader at his age.”
Trubisky was selected with the second overall pick in the draft in April, with the Bears believing they had solidified their future at the most important position in the game. The accuracy and mobility of Trubisky were widely heralded and have been on display at times during his first five career starts. What fans don’t get to see is how he operates during the week.
While there’s a kind presence and jovial personality to Trubisky, the fiery demeanor comes out when he’s competing. There’s a tremendous intensity to Trubisky’s work behind the scenes. Coaches like offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains have touted his efforts with the iPad and the playbook. Teammates now are seeing how Trubisky is demanding more of them.
“He’s going to hold guys accountable,” Grasu said. “It doesn’t matter how old or how young he is. He’s just going to be himself. That’s just who he is. He’s not doing too much or anything. That’s just how he approaches every day. He approaches every play like that. He approaches every workout in the weight room, every meeting very seriously. We’re just fortunate to have him. “
Added Long: “He doesn’t seem like a rookie to us anymore. He just takes command in the huddle. I’ve never played with a guy who does it like he does — attention to detail, the ability to be very straightforward with the offensive line and communicate any issues we may have.”
The Bears are 3-6 on the season, including a mark of 2-3 with Trubisky as the starter. He has completed 59 of 115 passes for 809 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. The offense Trubisky has been asked to run has been conservative due to a lack of premier playmakers around him.
Trubisky hasn’t made any excuses since taking over as the starter. The Bears haven’t been good enough around him – something clear to any observer of the last five games – but he’s quick to shoulder the blame. After being sacked five times against the Packers on Sunday, it was Trubisky standing before the media and saying he needs to be faster with his decisions in the pocket.
There are plenty of items Trubisky must clean up, too. Loggains pointed out several instances from Sunday in which the offense was lined up illegally – something a veteran like the injured Zach Miller often cleans up before a snap. It’s Trubisky’s task now and something to learn as time goes on.
Those at Halas Hall believe that there will be better days ahead for Trubisky, when he’s leading a strong supporting cast and heaping praise for big wins. For now, the Bears can’t get out of their own way.
When it’s all said and done, the early days of Trubisky’s NFL career will be remembered for how he established himself as a leader for a Bears organization with high hopes.
“It starts and stops with me in the operation,” Trubisky said. “I just need to direct traffic, get everyone lined up, in and out of the huddle and make sure everything is crisp so that everyone is on the same page. And I’m going to continue to do that.
“But the most important thing for me right away was to earn the trust of my teammates and to show them how much I care, so that I can earn their respect in that when I say something in the huddle that it holds weight. And I think it has gotten to that point.”