Monday I wrote a piece endorsing the return of Ryan Pace, Matt Nagy and Mitch Trubisky in 2021. The piece in no way insinuated any of these individuals be given ferry boats of cash or long-term extensions. It simply suggested that the offense’s long-awaited improvement, which is now historic for this organization, warranted another look. Players, coaches and systems all develop on their own unique timelines and perhaps this player (Mitch), this coach (Matt) and this system (Matt by way of Bill Lazor) took this long.
“But Jeff, didn’t you say…”
“Jeff, weren’t you the one who suggested…”
“Jeff, after Detroit, you wanted to…”
Yes, I did.
Yes, I was.
Yes, I would have.
But I chose to headline Monday’s column with the words “I Was Wrong” for a reason. Why are we so afraid to be wrong when it comes to sports? What does it matter? We have opinions on things in life every day and circumstances often change those opinions. Hell, there were 782,000 divorces in the United States last year alone.
But a better example…
Jim doesn’t like spinach for the first 32 years of his life. Whenever his wife cooks it, he complains about the smell, complains about the look, tells stories about his mother forcing it on him as a child.
Then he goes to Gene & Georgetti, tries it sautéed with garlic and lemon, and discovers, “Yea, this is good.” Now Jim likes spinach. Does Jim keep telling his wife he doesn’t like it? Does he stay beholden to his previous opinion because he held it for so long he believes it to be part of his culinary identity? No. Of course not. Because he’s not insane. (Unless he is insane, and in that case he would continue to endlessly bash spinach on Twitter while consuming it at levels that would make Popeye blush.)
I remember sitting in Soldier Field for that playoff game in January 2019. I remember seeing Trubisky take the football with nothing on the clock, make great throw-after-great throw, and put the Bears in position to survive and advance. I remember thinking the Bears had their quarterback. I had not reached any conclusion on him to that point. He’d struggled somewhat throughout the season but that seemed the kind of confidence-building drive that could propel a career.
For the first time since DBB’s inception, I predicted the Bears to go to the Super Bowl the following season based almost entirely on that final drive. And hoo boy, I was wrong.
After a disastrous effort against the New Orleans Saints in October 2019, I quit on Trubisky. Why? Disappointment, probably. It’s way easier to simply cut-and-run on a player than continue taking the “wait and see” approach. At a certain point you arrive at “how long do I have to wait?” And when it comes to the quarterback position, it is best to recognize what you don’t have and act accordingly because until that position is settled, your organization is in football purgatory.
Going into 2020, I thought Nick Foles would be a solid, veteran presence. I didn’t think he would be great but I thought he would be better than Trubisky. I was wrong. On both points. He’s a veteran but far from solid. And he was way, way, way worse than Trubisky. When Trubisky re-entered the starting lineup, I resigned myself to enjoy the games with zero expectations. After their performance against the Packers, that seemed the right approach. Trubisky was solid in the second half but it was difficult to take anything in those two quarters seriously.
Trubisky was not the guy. That was never going to change.
I was wrong.
Back to the Spinach.
This offensive run is not only about the numbers, which are objectively solid. The Bears have very clearly changed their entire offensive approach. Trubisky is now, for the first time in his Bears tenure, operating an offense designed for him. And he’s looked very good doing it. This ain’t Jim’s mom spinach, baked in an offense and dried out. This is the steakhouse version, prepared specifically to his taste. Is Mitch a flawless player? Of course not. But if you’re looking for a flawless player at the quarterback position, you’re down to about six guys in the whole league. In the NFC, Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson. End of list.
It would be very easy to rest on my earlier opinions and columns; to stick with my entrenched, public opinions. But the spinach is in front of me on the table and it tastes pretty damn good. When food you don’t expect to taste good tastes good, you don’t look for excuses. You enjoy the taste. You acknowledge the quality. And next time you’re sitting in a restaurant, you might even order it again!
2021 is that next restaurant. And while I hadn’t considered wanting Trubisky on my plate ever again, I have to admit that this Trubisky, the way he’s being prepared, is worthy of another go. Nothing should change about the off-season. The Bears shouldn’t rule out anything else on the menu, and they certainly shouldn’t rule out taking a quarterback early in the coming draft. Having multiple vegetables sounds like a good recipe for a healthy organization.
The Bears have created a successful dish. Why would they change the chef and ingredients now? Things have changed, and so should the opinions surrounding this franchise.