A touchdown pass off a tip and two costly turnovers was how one player’s NFL debut ended on Monday Night Football.
Second overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft Mitch Trubisky made his NFL debut against Minnesota Vikings Monday night, home at Soldier Field. The quarterback Chicago Bears traded four draft picks to get, including the third overall pick to move one spot closer, lost his first career game 20-17. A loss that came down to two turnovers by Trubisky.
“I really think the difference was the turnovers,” Bears head coach John Fox said after the game.
Trubisky getting strip sacked before halftime with 2:34 remaining gave the Minnesota Vikings the ball at the Bears 13-yard line. Vikings scored after picking up the lost fumble to take the lead 3-2 going into halftime. Trubisky’s second turnover was an interception late in the fourth quarter that set up the Vikings for a game winning field goal.
“I can’t put my team in that situation,” Trubisky said during the post game press conference, in regards to his fourth quarter interception.
On their own 22 yard line with 2:32 remaining, Trubisky forced a throw to his tight end Zach Miller on a 1st and 10. Trying to give his target a chance to make a play the windows in the NFL are much shorter, Trubisky said. Consequently, the ball went right in the hands of Vikings safety Harrison Smith.
“I should have just got down to my check down or threw the ball away,” Trubisky said.
Despite the turnovers, Miller is excited for the rookie quarterback’s future.
“He’s balling,” Miller said of Trubisky. “He did everything really well aside from just late in the game where we need to take care of the football better.”
The quarterback completed 12 of 25 of his passes for 128 yards. On three carries he added 22 yards on the ground. One of his highlights was a trickery two-point conversion off an option between three players with the ball ending up in Trubisky’s hands when he crossed the goal line to tie the game at 17.
Before the two-point conversion a tipped pass fell in the hands of Miller. The play resulted in Trubisky’s first career touchdown pass.
“I was just trying to direct Zach to the left…we got a little lucky and it bounced our way,” Trubisky said. “Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don’t.”
While Bears are still trying to figure out if they got lucky in this year’s NFL Draft when selecting Trubisky, he’s expected to start the next 11 games since he’s replaced opening day starter Mike Glennon.
This season’s original plan was for Trubisky to take a “redshirt” season to learn the game. However, the team decided to bench Mike Glennon, the quarterback they signed in the offseason for $45 million on three years. Glennon was 1-3 as a starter turning the ball over eight times his last three starts. Trubisky starting week five means the team is putting him out their much earlier than anticipated.
A quarterback who’s been in his shoes, playing for a big market and having to start his rookie season is Bears third string quarterback Mark Sanchez. In 2009 the NFL Draft’s fifth overall pick was the immediate starter for New York Jets week one and helped lead the team to an AFC Championship appearance.
With concerns starting a quarterback too early could damage a young quarterback’s confidence, Sanchez addresses what circumstances are needed to best accommodate a rookie starter in an interview with WGN Radio.
“It’s all based on timing [and] the guys around you,” Sanchez said. “You have a team that can make up for a couple screw ups, a team that could bail you out and hold their offense to a field goal when you turn it over in your own territory, you can’t substitute for that. I don’t care who the quarterback is.”
When it’s trial by fire its best when there’s a solid core surrounding the quarterback, Sanchez said, otherwise it’s best to have them sit and learn.
In Trubisky’s case he has a defense that can keep him in the game. Despite costly turnovers, the defense limited Vikings to a field goals off turnovers in their own territory. The defense also gave Trubisky an early lead with a safety. With Jordan Howard in the backfield, Bears have a reliable running back.
When the offense had trouble getting their offense going Monday, the play caller ran a fake punt pass that led to a 38-yard touchdown to help the offense score for the first time that game. Despite a 1-4 record, Bears have pieces to help Trubisky stay competitive in NFL games.
“It’s hard coming out, especially as a high draft pick, and not playing. That would have been tough, psychologically,” Sanchez said. “But you run the risk of getting the guy beat up that maybe he starts second guessing stuff.”
For Trubisky mobility will help him and he has the support of the team, Sanchez said. When he does make mistakes, especially in a big market, narratives judging him off one play or drive will be out there, Sanchez said.
“That shouldn’t affect him and we’ll do our best to make sure it doesn’t,” Sanchez said. “He’s a good player and he works his butt off.”
By Gino Terrell