Never have I ever: Experienced a thrilling, hopeful, and meaningful preseason as a Chicago Bears fan.
That is until now.
That’s in large part to the impressive performance by Bears rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft, who has not only wowed with his natural athletic ability but defied the expectations that even the Bears had for him.
Mitchapalooza, as us Bears fans have so lovingly referred to the Trubisky craze, has been in overdrive since his Aug. 10 debut against the Denver Broncos, where he set the football world on fire impressing with his poise, mobility, accuracy, presence, and overall “wow” factor. That excitement only continued as Trubisky continued to impress against the Arizona Cardinals on Aug. 19 and most recently Aug. 27 against the Tennessee Titans.
For the most part, Trubisky has resembled anything but a rookie in his three appearances. In his first three exhibition games, Trubisky has gone 34-for-48 (with a 70.8% completion percentage) for 348 yards, three touchdowns, and a 112.7 passer rating. Basically, Trubisky couldn’t have done too much better.
That’s not to say that he was flawless, which he most definitely wasn’t. There were a couple of questionable throws that could’ve been intercepted. He showed his youth with his pre-snap struggles against the Titans. But the good has far outweighed the bad, which is why there are cries for Trubisky to start Week 1. That, and the fact that Mike Glennon currently sits atop the Bears’ depth chart.
There was an assumption that both Glennon and Trubisky would sit out the final exhibition game of the season. While Glennon has been the anointed starter since the Bears shelled out $18 million for him in the offseason, following a third consecutive game in which Trubisky posted a passer rating more than 100, you assumed that a promotion was coming. Not to No.1, but No. 2.
But that doesn’t seem to be the case as Bears coach John Fox announced that Trubisky will get the start in Thursday’s preseason finale against the Cleveland Browns. Fourth stringer Connor Shaw will also see action Thursday. Glennon and Mark Sanchez will sit out.
Trubisky is getting the start on Thursday. In perhaps the most worthless game of what usually is a letdown of a preseason.
There’s a huge part of me that is screaming WHY? WHY RISK IT?! as every terrible outcome runs through my brain considering what’s transpired so far this preseason, including most recently Sunday with Bears receiver Cameron Meredith.
Tell that to someone who doesn’t have decades of mediocrity and disparity at the quarterback position. Tell that to someone who doesn’t see our best rookie quarterback prospect in years and fears for the worst.
My initial instinct was to scream WHAT THE F$%K? as I drove home in my car cursing my radio. But after I calmed down — and let all the bad possibilities melt away — there’s also good that can definitely come out of Trubisky playing in this meaningless game.
So let’s get to my nifty Pro/Con list to break down the pros and cons of starting Trubisky on Thursday:
PRO: SAY YES TO THE REPS
While Trubisky has both impressed and defied expectations this preseason, he’s still a rookie quarterback that makes rookie mistakes. We saw perhaps the most important issue coming pre-snap against the Titans last Sunday.
In that game, Trubisky struggled with the play clock and timing pre-snap reads, including a delay of game on 4th and 1. If anything, that’s what would probably hold the Bears back from starting the rookie come week 1. The kind of struggles that are to come with a rookie. But you have to assume that’s something he would struggle with anyway. As a rookie, you need to make mistakes. You need to learn from those mistakes.
That’s why reps — as many reps as possible — are good for a rookie quarterback that made 13 collegiate starts. Or any college quarterback, for that matter. It’s all about getting acclimated to the league. We know that Trubisky operated out of strictly shotgun in college, and since then he’s becoming more comfortable taking snaps under center.
The only way you’re going to learn as a rookie is through real game experience. Since it looks more likely with each passing day that the Bears are going to hand the starting reigns to Glennon, Trubisky needs all of the action he can get on the football field.
But that’s not to say that Trubisky won’t start this season. That, already, seems like a forgone conclusion. It’s not a matter of if but a matter of when. And the answer is sooner rather than later.
Let’s just hope Trubisky gets that chance.
CON: THE FEAR IS REAL
I’m a pessimist. But I’m also a realist. So when Coach John Fox announced that Trubisky would be starting the final exhibition game, every terrible outcome went through my brain at rapid speed.
WHAT DID I EVER DO TO YOU?!
When it comes to the final game of the preseason, there’s no game more worthless than this one. Usually starters sit as guys vying for last minute roster spots on the practice squad fight to impress.
Not exactly the kind of situation you’d expect a team to throw its rookie stud who has been outperforming your starting quarterback throughout the preseason.
Considering what’s happened this preseason with costly and freak injuries sidelining key pieces to many NFL team’s puzzle, there’s real fear when it comes to playing your No. 2 overall pick — when he’s already shown you how much he’s progresses and how bright his future is — in a meaningless game.
Honestly, I don’t see the point. Trubisky has shown the Bears exactly what they need to see with on-field action. The rest, as you figure, would come from the classroom. Continuing to absorb this offense and just become a better study.
So, naturally this situation is a tad baffling. Especially for a player that, no doubt, will see playing time in the regular season. So why risk it?