By Dan Bernstein —
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(670 The Score) — You’ll have to excuse me for allowing the Force to affect my evaluation of the Bears’ most important competitor currently in training, but I just exited “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” about 10 minutes before sitting down to write what I promised the editors, and I can’t help it.
There will be no spoilers, I promise.
Rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky threw three interceptions in a loss at Detroit on Saturday, and all of them looked terrible. One sailed high beyond Kendall Wright, the next was a case of the safety apparently using some kind of cloaking device to render himself invisible in the end zone and the third was a classic route-communication failure with tight end Daniel Brown. Different kinds of bad in the balance between mental and physical quarterbacking error, each one wrong in its own way.
And it’s OK. It may, in fact, end up being for the better.
As a wise master once said to a pupil, “The greatest teacher, failure is.”
Or as 670 The Score analyst Olin Kreutz put it on Twitter, “Good to see the young guy throwing it around. Turnovers are part of every rookie QB’s development.”
While Trubisky begins to understand where his natural gifts of arm strength, athleticism and speed fit in the grand scheme of the football universe, we can only assume that one goal of the looming offseason is to provide him with a better and more experienced teacher. If Bill Walsh was Obi Wan Kenobi, Dowell Loggains is a porg.
And the current state of his apprenticeship — stuck behind an injury-ravaged offensive line than can neither protect him consistently nor help grind out rushing yards that dictate more advantageous down and distance, given bargain-basement talents for targets and seemingly besieged by never-ending penalties — can break in one of two ways or some combination thereof.
If he succumbs to the darkness, Trubisky will have settled into self-defeating habits due to learned helplessness. The calibration of his targeting mechanism thrown off by his receivers’ lack of separation and their inability to make plays on catchable balls at the edge of their respective radii, he gets gun-shy in a way that limits how he considers someone to be adequately open. Potentially big plays instead become checkdowns, as his eyes are quick to drop closer to him. Any risk at that point looks, to him, like too much.
But if he trusts his gifts, learns to reach out with his feelings and is given a handful of halfway decent pass catchers and enough time to find them, there could be an opposite effect. Think of this scenario like a batter using a weighted donut in the on-deck circle or a golfer who spends hours on the green putting at a hole barely larger than the ball. When the artificial restrictions are later taken away, it all suddenly can become effortless — a previously razor-thin margin for error supplanted by new possibility, as he understands new power flowing within him, and fulfills his destiny.
“Mind what you have learned. Save you, it can,” it has been said.
If Trubisky succeeds, everything is fine. If he fails, a now star-crossed franchise continues to inhabit the distant reaches of a galaxy far, far away from contention. As hard as he has pledged to work in his commitment to the mysterious and noble art of NFL quarterbacking, what matters is the result.
“Do, or do not. There is no try.”