By Robert Zeglinski
BOURBONNAIS — When you’re the No. 2 overall pick at quarterback who presumably will eventually be handed the keys to the car, such as Bears rookie Mitchell Trubisky, you have to maintain perspective.
The simplest aspects of getting under center such as comfort take time. Winning respect of the locker room, diagnosing plays pre-snap, all come along a drawn out process. A lesson Trubisky was all too familiar with when he fumbled three of his first five snaps in full pads as a Bear this weekend.
Perhaps the pressure of playing in front of his first professional crowd got to him. More likely, it was the inexperience of taking snaps from under center—something Trubisky hasn’t done in almost his entire football playing life.
Whatever it was, to his credit, Chicago’s current No. 3 quarterback was thrown off but displayed a necessary short memory. Trubisky’s not making any excuses. Draft status or not, he’s going to have to earn his place with the Bears.
“It was frustrating because that was uncharacteristic of me,” said Trubisky of his bobbles. “I kind of wasted a team session right there.”
Wasting a team session in your first ever full contact professional practice is more understandable than throwing away a possession in an actual live game. Mistakes by a rookie with only 13 college starts aren’t surprising. If anything, they should be regularly expected while the Bears monitor how their prized pupil reacts to the ongoing stress of camp.
Enter veteran Mike Glennon: to spare Trubisky from the fire before they have to. To have an established piece present while the crown jewel of the franchise develops in the wings, makes mistakes comfortably, and who plays when seasoned well. Glennon is a player that has had his “leadership” praised by almost every Bear spoken to at camp. He is the face of the team for now.
That’s why veteran Mark Sanchez – who was brought in to assist both Glennon and Trubisky – thinks there’ll be no issues as far as a quarterback controversy in Chicago. Not only because of a cohesive locker room but because the Bears have tentatively mapped out exactly what they’re going to do with the most important position. They’re going to hold the reins tight and not rush Trubisky.
“Not a chance. Not a chance at all,” Sanchez said on the possibility of a controversy.
Before he can usurp Glennon, the team understands Trubisky must first master the tiniest intricacies of his game before he’s ever ready to work with the No. 1’s and go toe-to-toe with the Packers for the NFC North and more.
And that’s okay. This is the asset the Bears drafted. They knew what they were investing in: an unfinished product that needs multitudes of fine-tuning.
Trubisky himself is a confident player. He wouldn’t be in the NFL if he wasn’t. Yet even he can see the best-laid plans of the Bears to have him grow into a starring role. He knows the road to becoming the starter is still a ways away, a small sample size at camp not withstanding. Plans he’s bought into and believes in.
“I have to respect the plan they have in place, and I have to believe in that, so that’s what I’m doing,” Trubisky said.
The key for Trubisky over the course of the next month will be how he responds to mistakes such as an uneven full-padded weekend. How will he learn from previous mental errors? How will he react to exotic blitzes the second and third occasions they’re thrown at him?
A developmental curve that will be harsh which Trubisky must hunker down for.
Where can you already see these glimpses of a rookie slowly acclimating to the NFL, you ask?
It’s when he launches 40-yard bombs to rookie undrafted free agent Tanner Gentry in his first practice ever on Thursday. It’s when he establishes a noticeable chemistry with Gentry, one Bears defensive backs haven’t yet adjusted to three practices in. It’s when he flashes his athleticism in the face of an oncoming pass rusher and oh-so naturally flicks his wrist for a dime in coverage.
Then, after a day of struggles filled with faulty exchanges on Saturday, Trubisky on Sunday comes out calmly firing perfect passes into tight windows with resolve and courage one wouldn’t expect to see from a rookie so quickly. Ultimately not making his first real passing mistake – a turnover on a sailed pass picked off by fellow rookie Eddie Jackson – until near the end of a whacky four days.
New tight end Dion Sims has seen much of the same from the Bears rookie. His first impressions likely embody what the Bears as a team see in a rookie blossoming, slowly but surely. Now is not the time to waver.
“He’s got a lot on his plate right now, but he’ll pick it up. He’ll be good for us,” Sims said.
An NFL career isn’t defined by your first practices. No one’s sculpting your bust in Canton because you lit up the competition in controlled situations. From the opposite point of view, a raw player isn’t a bust because of an uneven start while they’re absolutely drowning in new information.
The assessment of Trubisky as a quarterback and whether he will be the man to lead the Bears to the promised land will not come during his first NFL experiences. The onus will be on Trubisky to slowly progress the way the Bears believe he can and then snap judgments will be properly made.
Whenever the Trubisky era starts, whether it’s in 2017 or a year or two down the line, it’s indefinitely on the horizon. When that moment arrives, the young gun thinks he’ll be ready to shine.
“You gotta keep getting better. Because when you’re called upon, it’s time to rock and roll.”
Robert is your guy for all things Bears and he’ll be with the team all through training camp. Find him on Twitter: @RobertZeglinski.