CHICAGO — Combine Mitch Trubisky’s first half against the Green Bay Packers and second half vs. the Seattle Seahawks and the Bears would have a near-complete performance from their young franchise quarterback.
After two second-quarter interceptions on consecutive series and too much of the “happy feet” he vowed to correct from the final 30 minutes at Lambeau Field, Trubisky found a rhythm following intermission of the Bears’ 24-17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in the home opener Monday night.
Trubisky finished the game 25-of-34 for 200 yards (5.9 YPA), two TDs and two INTs, an efficient if not explosive outing, save, of course, for the interceptions. But it wasn’t until the second half, when he was 12-of-14 for 88 yards and 1 TD, that he appeared truly comfortable in the Bears' horizontal passing game and avoided the poor decisons not befitting of a game manager a club with a great 'D' mostly requires.
"For sure, still getting better," Trubisky said of his pocket presence compared to last week. "Feel like I was better at that this week, just staying in the pocket, getting out quick.
" ... Just keep it rolling and just keep growing within this offense is what we're trying to do, but I think I was better in the pocket tonight and go back and look at it and see what I can continue to improve on."
Trubisky sprinkled stellar plays in between his two picks and throughout the evening.
His 17-yard scramble on third-and-six showed how dynamic he can be as a runner. Trubisky then channeled Russell Wilson on a 17-yard completion to Tarik Cohen, including a complete 360 in the pocket before floating the ball in accurately to Cohen in stride — although the pocket improvisation felt unnecessary. He punctuated another dazzling TD-scoring opening drive with a 3-yard shovel toss to TE Trey Burton, with Matt Nagy taking a page from Andy Reid's Kansas City playbook and praising Trubisky for making the proper decision off the read-option play.
But Trubisky clearly was too amped early, overthrowing Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel on potential chunk plays, then underthrowing Robinson on his first interception. And the outstanding vision he showed on the first scramble was absent on another designed QB keeper on third down, with Trubisky looking to bounce outside rather than following his blocking for the first down.
Trubisky, whose second interception was deflected at the line of scrimmage, should’ve had a third pick late in the first half, when he again found himself lost in the pocket and briefly facing his own end zone before reverseing to make an ill-fated chuck into double coverage in the end zone.
The Bears’ plan early in Nagy’s first year as head coach and Trubisky’s first season as the Week 1 starter seems clear: let a great defense do the heavy lifting, until Trubisky, he of 25 combined collegiate and professional starts entering Year 2, finds his footing.
Still, it hasn’t prevented Trubisky from pressing at times, even though he hasn’t seen a defense capable of creating the kind of pressure he’ll almost assuredly see later in the season.
But after his uneven first half, Trubisky settled down coming out of the tunnel. After connecting on his first six passes but only picking up three combined first downs on the first two possessions, he hit Anthony Miller for the second-round receiver’s first career touchdown — a 10-yarder showcasing Trubisky’s ability to throw accurately on the move — to cap a 66-yard TD drive early in the fourth quarter.
Rolling to his left, Trubisky showed poise while waiting for Miller to come open before delivering a precise throw. That was after Trubisky missed Miller in the other corner of the same end zone while rolling to his right and the Bears were forced to settle for a field goal and 10-3 lead heading into halftime.
The Bears will gladly take the good with the bad as long as they’re winning, and they achieved their most important goal Monday. Unlike some of their fans, they’re not concerned with Nagy’s former pupil, the Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes, who was selected eight picks after Trubisky and just surpassed Peyton Manning and Drew Brees to become the first quarterback in NFL history with 10 passing touchdowns through the first two games.
Eventually, though, they’ll need Trubisky to be able to take pressure off their defense. They'll need him to make big downfield throws, not have his longest completion of the night go for 17 yards, and to start turning the near-misses on explosive plays with No. 1 WR Allen Robinson (game-high 10 catches for 83 yards) into scoring connections.
"I'm trying to get over just dwelling on plays too much," Trubisky said. "I think it hurts me more than it's helped me so getting over plays and just building on what I did good and forgetting about what I did bad and continuing to improve and get better and learn this offense. Coach keeps saying, it is going to be a process. We want immediate results but finding ways to win is very important and we did that tonight."
For now, it’s all part of the Trubisky experience, and as long as he shows improvement from half to half and game to game, as he did Monday night, it can suffice.
"Again, the thing we're learning in this process is we are on a next-play-mentality and I'm happy with how he handled himself from play one to the fourth quarter," Nagy said. "Any time after any play, good or bad, after the series, he was phenomenal. His attitude was great and he didn't worry about anything. That's growth right there and that makes me happy to know that he understands that."