Bears' Trubisky took great strides in loss to Lions
The scoreboard didn't reflect it, but the Chicago Bears' 27-24 loss to the Lions last Sunday represented a giant step in the development of rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
In his sixth start, Trubisky directed his most impressive two-minute drill. He got his team into position to attempt a game-tying field goal, although it ended badly when Connor Barth's 46-yard try went wide right.
And, after being sacked 15 times in his previous four starts while throwing just 90 passes, Trubisky was dropped just once against the Lions while putting it up 30 times. For the fourth time in five games, Trubisky was not intercepted.
"Every day to this point that he's taken the field, he's played better," Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. "The passing game has become more and more efficient. We keep telling him: 'Keep stacking good games, and we're gonna keep playing better around you. We'll keep putting you in good situations, and the wins are going to come.'"
The Bears' offense rolled up 398 yards, using a perfect balance of 30 runs and 30 passes, and had the ball with a chance to force overtime.
After falling short at crunch time in the previous two games, Trubisky ran a nifty two-minute drill against the Lions. He drove the Bears 55 yards in 83 seconds, capped by his 19-yard scramble on fourth-and-13 and a 15-yard strike to Dontrelle Inman.
"A lot of times that's how quarterbacks are evaluated," Loggains said of the hurry-up offense. "It's the end of the game, and you've got the ball in your hands. That was a big step in his growth. The scramble was incredible.
"I was standing on the sideline saying, 'No, you can't do that Mitchell,' and all of a sudden it was, 'Wow, Mitchell.' That's a heckuva football play."
Trubisky ran the ball a career-high six times against the Lions and picked up 53 yards, tying his personal best from Week 8 against the Saints (on just 3 carries).
"It's something we've worked on, something we've injected into our offense," coach John Fox said. "There are some things, the strengths that he has, some abilities that can help our football team."
The Bears rushed for 222 yards against the Lions, the third time they've topped 200 yards this season.
"We've grown a little bit more in our repertoire as far as the running game," Fox said. "That was part of it, the zone-read stuff."
Designed runs like the zone read will become a bigger part of the Bears' offense with Trubisky averaging 7.8 yards per carry -- but only when circumstances dictate that the benefits outweigh the risks. The value of Trubisky's contributions as a runner have to be balanced with the potential for injury.
"It's a fine line, and that's why we don't do it every week," Loggains said. "It's something that creates problems for a defense. But you've got to work really hard to make sure that you don't put your quarterback in a tough spot. And he's gotta be smart and take care of himself, which he did.
"It's just a different wrinkle to affect the defensive end or slow down a pass rush. It's just like a screen or draw."
Trubisky ran similar zone-read plays at North Carolina where the quarterback reads the defensive end and keeps the ball or hands it to the trailing running back. But it's different at the NFL level.
"It's going to be a feel thing that I will continue to learn going forward," Trubisky said. "Detroit had pretty aggressive ends, but each week the ends are going to play differently.
"And the other things that's different is the closing speed. Usually after you pull it (and run), those are big runs in college. Now they're only 6-10 yards, maybe 15 if you're lucky. Then it's all about getting down, not taking hits but also keeping the defense honest."
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