THE MORNING AFTER: They’ve got Mitch’s back
CHICAGO – Only when teams win do fans get a chance to see into a professional football locker room.
Network cameras go into to get the speech from the head coach, the celebration of the players, and the awarding of the game ball. It’s usually video that makes for some good fodder for a season-ending video or a nice moment on Social Media.
That’s not the case when you lose a game. It doesn’t work that way.
Typically there are no cameras in there to capture the heartache, frustration, and conversation following a defeat. While it might make for some interesting television at times, typically you have to rely on the words of those who were there to paint the picture.
Luckily, Kendall Wright was willing to do that on Monday night.
After the Bears dropped a 20-17 decision to the Vikings, the veteran receiver was there to see his rookie quarterback deal with his first defeat at a professional. You could say that Mitchell Trubisky acted like one when near his offensive teammates, based on what he said in the locker room after the game.
“He was cool. He said after the game that. He was telling everyone it was his fault,” said Wright.
In a broader perspective, that’s not really true. But in that particular moment, it might have seemed that way.
Entering the final two minutes of his debut, with the score tied at 17, Trubisky attempt to throw towards Zach Miller on the run. His throw was a bit short and behind his tight end and the pass was intercepted by Harrison Smith deep in Bears territory.
That turnover turned into the game-winning field goal. It’s a literal rookie mistake made by Trubisky in his first game. When the team returned to the locker room following the defeat, he wasn’t willing to let himself off the hook.
“Taking ownership,” said Trubisky as to why he took blame for the defeat after the game. “I feel like that’s what a quarterback is supposed to do. That’s what I’ve been doing my whole life. You just take it, especially when you make a play like that, the interception, you just feel like it was your fault and you could have done more to help our team win.
“I just felt like it was on me.”
Wright and some of his teammates disagreed, choosing to point to the many positives that Trubisky showed in his first game. Creating plays with his feet, throwing off-balance and hitting receivers with crisp passes, his ability to improvise. Going 12-of-25 for 128 yards with a touchdown and an interception isn’t exactly stellar, but there was enough positive in the game to make people overlook the common Bears’ quarterback mistake made at the end of the game.
“We’ve seen him in the tryout session. Now we got to see him under the lights. Being in the huddle with the guy, it’s pretty cool,” said Kyle Long of Trubisky’s debut. “He’s gonna be a special quarterback. It think he’s going to be around here for a very long time. We’ve just got to do a better job of taking care of him and putting him in position to get through his reads and stay ahead of the sticks.”
What he’s pointing to are the five offensive penalties in the first and early second quarter that derailed some of the early momentum created by the offense. Three of them came on one drive, including a holding call that knocked out a 42-yard touchdown run by Jordan Howard. Toss a few drops in there as well, and those around Trubisky had just as much to do with loss as him.
“We can’t put him in those positions,” said Wright, who led the team with four catches on Monday night. “We had plenty of opportunities to win that game until that last minute or however long it was, we had plenty of chances to win that game.”
In the end, however, it goes down as a loss. In the locker room afterwards, while no cameras were there, support seemed all around from Trubisky’s teammates after his first of what they hope will be many NFL games.
Don’t think that didn’t got unnoticed by the rookie either.
“I’m gonna watch this film, be critical of myself and I’m going to get better,” said Trubisky. “I appreciate them having faith in me and having my back, but I feel like it’s on me.”
A few of his teammates would disagree.