By Robert Zeglinski
BOURBONNAIS – The Bears go into training camp every year with endless positivity and a squeaky clean slate. Something, however, feels strange about this group. There’s a needed edge that hasn’t been there in the past. There’s a unity that’s escaped this team before. It starts with the face of the franchise, Mitchell Trubisky.
On Thursday, as the Bears opened up camp festivities in Bourbonnais, something was different about how Trubisky carried himself at the podium. A year older and a year wiser, these Bears are now firmly Trubisky’s team, as everything is on his shoulders. And he knows it. With that expectation, comes hype as well as doubt. Trubisky isn’t interested in entertaining either end of that spectrum.
“People don’t even really know what they’re talking about,” said Trubisky of the criticism of his caliber and the leap he can make in his second year. “People are going to talk. Why would you let that enter your head?”
Indeed, part of being an NFL player let alone a quarterback with the beaming spotlight Trubisky has on him, is understanding that you’re always going to face criticism. Often, there’s nothing to warrant that criticism. You’re also always going to be propped up. Often, there’s nothing to warrant that praise. It’s continuous, and can be exhausting if you get caught up in it. But it’s the nature of the job.
To his credit, Trubisky has plugged away and worked on his craft in the down time instead. A steady and calm demeanor to handle the faint voices that can’t break through his self-imposed bubble.
What’s of actual significance to Trubisky is his play, and ultimately how his team perceives him. Their praise and criticism has value because they’re actually practicing and interacting with him every day. They know Trubisky firsthand, the promising quarterback, better than anyone. So when they continually talk him up, his work ethic, and talent regularly as they did to start camp, you can’t help but widen your eyes. This is the hype and talk that matters.
Kyle Fuller, who has been through rotating cast of Bears characters at quarterback, sees how Trubisky’s developed so quickly. He sees a quarterback he can connect and grow up with, regardless of whether they play on opposite sides of the ball.
“He’s a young guy, not too far from me,” said the 26-year-old Fuller of the 23-year-old Trubisky. “We can relate a little bit.”
Hearing a cornerback, let alone someone normally as soft spoken as Fuller, praise Trubisky like this is a strange development. If Trubisky is personally reaching the defensive room in addition to his receivers and offensive linemen, it’s a comforting thought. A welcome one about his leadership amidst the unneeded talk.
The man who most benefits from Trubisky’s presence, big fish free agent Allen Robinson, is ecstatic about how Trubisky operates. The two haven’t connected on one pass, and Robinson already sees special developments from his passer. Not there’s anything actually special about them. It’s more Trubisky carrying himself like the alpha dog of Halas Hall and doing the routine little things.
“Mitch is a pro. There’s a reason that he’s here,” said Robinson effusively talking up Trubisky. “He’s a good quarterback from a mental and physical standpoint.”
When push comes to shove, the person that should understand Trubisky best is Robinson. They’re the ones that will create magic with each other on explosive plays down field, after all. The fact that the receiver and Trubisky are on the same wavelength so early speaks volumes as to how Trubisky cultivates his closest team relationships. Another thought welcome amidst the excess talk.
Yet, even while these important praises exude from the Bears to this point, Trubisky has mentally filed everything away. His goal is to respond only as necessary, and only when he absolutely has to. That goes tenfold for anyone not affiliated with the Bears.
“I go Zero Dark 10 on the social media and articles,” said Trubisky.
Trubisky’s weapon and guiding instrument in this instance is ignorance. Not ignorance of a negative connotation, but a blissful ignorance that keeps his eyes on the prize. Buying into the negativity or hype just slows him down.
This stance by Trubisky speaks to how much he has matured professionally since taking his first snaps under center last October. This is a quarterback not super keen on the stardom off-field aspect that comes with his position, but rather the success that stems from becoming one of the greats. The elite earn the respect of their teammates as he clearly has. And, they make their hay in between the lines.
Most importantly, it’s an obvious impatience oozing out of Trubisky to quickly add weight to what the Bears say. It’s an impatience to prove the doubt and talk he knows exists emphatically wrong, even if he doesn’t remotely pay attention to any of it.
“I’m tired of all the doubts. I’m tired of waiting. I’m tired of the critics. I just want to play.”
Robert is your guy for all things Bears. He’ll be with the team all through training camp. Find him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.