SANTA CLARA, California – Everyone has been wondering the same question since April 27, 2017.
Is Mitchell Trubisky the quarterback to lead the Bears to the promise land? Can this signal caller be the franchise signal caller the team has been searching for?
Its one that’s been debated since his first training camp, his debut against the Vikings on Monday Night Football in October of 2017. Many have wondered about that during the entire 2018 season – with opinion wavering game-to-game.
That’s how it goes with a high-pressure position like quarterback, and for Trubisky as a No. 2 overall selection. Some are patient with his development, while others look at Patrick Mahomes’ production in Kansas City in his second year and wonder why Trubisky isn’t doing the same.
Matt Nagy has been adamant that the only opinions on Trubisky are the ones from him and his teammates. Perhaps his fellow players made their statement with their reactions late in Sunday’s 14-9 win over the 49ers.
It wasn’t on one of the 25 passes that Trubisky completed out of 29 attempts – a percentage of 86.2 that’s the best for a Bears quarterback since 1960. It didn’t come from the 246 yards passing he had, which made him the sixth quarterback in franchise history to throw for 3,000 yards in a season.
Instead, it was on one of the plays that didn’t even count, one that he didn’t even throw.
On 3rd-and-5, Trubisky ran to his left and over the first down line and slid in front of the Bears’ bench to give himself up. Marcell Harris came up and hit Trubisky after he hit the ground, hitting him in the shoulder and the head.
Anthony Miller wasn’t going to let that stand.
The rookie receiver, standing next to Matt Nagy on the sidelines, went immediately to Harris and confronted him with a shove following the hit.
“When I see that, it’s like dirty football. I don’t support that,” said Miller – and he wasn’t alone in that sentiment.
The entire sideline quickly surrounded Harris, some trying to get a word or a shove in, while others tried to prevent the situation from escalating. Eventually, 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman got in the pile and began throwing punches at Josh Bellamy, who was one of those trying to get more than a word in on the hit.
What’s odd is that the play didn’t count, since a holding penalty on the Bears was offset by Harris’ late hit call. Yet it was as much of a critical moment for the team as any on Sunday.
“It hit a little pressure point with everybody,” said Bellamy of the hit on Trubisky. “We’re always going to have our guys back. Unfortunately, it happened that way. We’ve just got to learn to control our emotions.”
Bellamy was ejected from the game along with Miller and Sherman for what replay officials in New York determined were punches thrown by each. It was an ugly few moments, but one that showed what Trubisky means to this offense, and what happens if someone wants to inflict harm.
“I just saw Mitch’s head hit the ground real hard and I knew it was an unnecessary hit so, like, nobody had to tell me nothing to go in there,” said Miller. “That’s my quarterback.”
Those words, and the actions by those near the sideline, didn’t catch Trubisky off guard. He was one of the first to go after Harris to confront him about the hit, and he knew he’d get plenty of backup.
“No, it didn’t surprise me. I saw exactly what I knew, my teammates had my back all the way, which was awesome to see,” said Trubisky of the Bears that rushed to Harris to defend the quarterback. “They have to have my back and be smart as a team because we can’t afford to lose two guys like that.
“But, we’re brothers out there. We’re a family and we’re going to protect one another. It was nice to see they had my back and I hope they know I always have theirs, as well.”
It’s the respect a franchise quarterback should get from his team. Defending him at the drop of a hat when someone attempts to get a shot in on him shows he’s earned the trust of those around him.
When it comes to being the face of a franchise, that’s a great place to start.
“He was out there working, man, like he’s supposed to,” said Miller of Trubisky on Sunday. “That’s what we expect out of Mitch everytime. We think he’s an elite quarterback and he could take us all the way.”
Anthony and those around him certainly showed that belief on Sunday.