THE DRIVE TO 55: The 2nd playoff start is not like the first for Mitchell Trubisky

Bears Report

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – JANUARY 03: Mitchell Trubisky #10 of the Chicago Bears throws a pass against the Green Bay Packers during the second quarter in the game at Soldier Field on January 03, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

LAKE FOREST – A lot can change in a short amount of time, so two years can feel like an eternity. That could be the case for Bears’ fans in general and especially when it comes to quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.

When he stepped on the field for his first playoff game on January 6, 2019, he was the franchise quarterback who was about to appear in a Pro Bowl leading the NFC North champions against the Wild Card Eagles. Many thought the Bears were a dark horse contender for a Super Bowl title, so there were expectations by some the team would have a deep run into January.

Fast forward two years later, and everything is different. After all, there’s no guarantee that Trubisky will even be in Chicago once the Bears play their last game of the season.

Once the man at the position and at the forefront of what looked like a new era of the franchise, Trubisky now stares down free agency. The Bears didn’t pick up his fifth-year option, then benched him in Week 3, then watched as the former second-overall pick returned to lead the team to three wins that were enough to earn a playoff spot.

It makes for a much different experience for Trubisky as he enters his second playoff game Sunday against the Saints at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in the Wild Card round. Yet in some ways for the quarterback, the lack of hype for himself and the team is a bit freeing as they look to spring the upset.

“We’ve got nothing to lose,” said Trubisky. “We know everyone is overlooking us, they have the back half of the season. So I think we’ve just been playing with that edge, with that chip on our shoulder, and we don’t have anything to lose.

“So we should go out there, play free, but that doesn’t mean your going out there and not doing your job. We’ve got to be locked into the small details of our game plan and our job descriptions, and just play hard and play with a lot of passion and will. If we do that, I think we’ll give ourselves a good chance.”

At least Trubisky knows what a playoff-type week and game is like having gone through it just over two years ago. Even though this one is one the road, there will only be a few thousand fans in the normally rowdy Superdome, limiting some of the Saints’ noted homefield advantage.

This contest comes off a 33-of-42 performance against the Packers in which he didn’t throw for a touchdown and had an interception. The Bears put up just 18 points despite driving into the Green Bay red zone four times, but settling for three field goals kept them from keeping up in a 35-16 loss.

Shaking that off will be a key for Trubisky, something he’s learned to do more and more this season.

“We definitely turned the page very quickly,” said Trubisky. “I think the guys are eager and excited to get after it this week and really just thankful for another opportunity to play the game and be in the playoffs.

“I feel prepared. I feel excited.”

For an experience, like his own situation, that will be much different than two years ago.

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