Bears don't want to join 'upset victims' list

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Bears don't want to join 'upset victims' list

Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010
10:42 AM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

If the Bears lose to the Detroit Lions and the search begins for reasons, it likely will be necessary to look no further than Wednesday.

Not because of what happened Wednesday. Because of what didnt happen.

A loss to a 2-9 starting its third-string quarterback typically does not happen on game day. Thats simply when the tests are passed out and it is discovered, painfully, that not everyone was prepared for, studied hard enough for, was ready for, the pop quiz presented by the Detroit Lions.

Perhaps it was that extra tape not watched, or the extra look at a play design in a playbook.

It could just be that one or two plays that show up on Sunday, said cornerback Tim Jennings. But then if you go back to during the week, you see that you didnt really prepare yourself. And the difference between a good team and a great team is one or two plays.

The Bears do not want to be Mike Tyson to Detroits Buster Douglas, or Rocky Balboa to the Lions Clubber Lang (the first fight), or the Titanic to Motowns iceberg.

When you see a better team that shouldve won, and you see it in college and every level, it happens more during the week than on game day, said safety Chris Harris. On game day everybodys usually up and ready to play.

But Michigan is, after all, the state where Appalachian State stunned the Maize and Blue. And the Bears are the division leaders at 8-3 facing a team that has lost four straight and likely its top two quarterbacks, depending on the state of Shaun Hills broken right index finger.

The Lions are coming off a potentially demoralizing fourth-quarter collapse Thanksgiving Day in which the New England Patriots scored 21 points, 28 unanswered in all.

But the Lions are also the team that on that short week got on top of the far stronger Patriots before New England rallied. The Lions also took the New York Jets into overtime.

And lest anyone forget (the Bears have not), the Lions were within an officials ruling of defeating the Bears in Chicago in Game 1, when wide receiver Calvin Johnsons apparent TD catch was ruled a drop after Johnson put the ball on the ground while getting to his feet.

I think a letdown happens getting prepared for the game, said wide receiver Johnny Knox. Going in you have a different mindset. But each week going in, we have that same mentality. We know that Detroits a 2-9 team but weve played them and they played pretty good ball against us.

The film of the first Detroit game, as long as players do their due diligence and watch it thoroughly, should be enough to preclude any letdown.

The Bears had more than twice as many yards (463-168) as the Lions ran for five times as many yards (101-20) as the Lions. But Detroit led 14-3 at one point, 14-13 at halftime and sacked Jay Cutler four times to the Bears two sacks.

The jolt should have stayed with the Bears and if it didnt, there are veterans to remind everyone that letdowns and upsets do happen.

Not here, safety Harris insisted. The group of guys weve got here, and the coaches, they wont let that happen. They wont allow it. Weve got a good group of veterans and we wont let a letdown happen.

The Bears are a significantly better team than the one that escaped the Lions in week one but so are they, quarterback Cutler said. Its going to be a good matchup for us, tough matchup, division game, on the road. Thats always going to be tough.

But this team is led by veterans, guys whove been there before, and I think everyone realizes this is not the time to let up.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Why didn't Mitch Trubisky play earlier? For UNC, there was a 'simple' explanation

Why didn't Mitch Trubisky play earlier? For UNC, there was a 'simple' explanation

One of the central questions surrounding Mitch Trubisky during the draft process — and since the Bears picked him second overall Thursday night — has been: Why didn’t he win the starting job at North Carolina earlier?

Tarheels quarterbacks coach Keith Heckendorf said that question's answer is “simple.” 

Marquise Williams, who started over Trubisky in 2014 and 2015, wasn’t much of a pro prospect and failed to stick on an NFL roster after going undrafted last year. But consider this timeline:

2013: Trubisky arrives on campus, and the plan is to redshirt him. North Carolina begins the season 1-5 before fifth-year senior quarterback Bryn Renner suffers a season-ending injury. The decision is made to preserve Trubisky’s redshirt and start Williams, who leads North Carolina to five consecutive wins and a victory over Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl. 

2014: Riding that second-half surge, Williams is solidly North Carolina’s quarterback. While the Tarheels go 6-7, Williams does well in plenty of those losses (like throwing for 303 yards and rushing for 132 in a gouging of Notre Dame’s defense). Trubisky, in his first college action, completes 53.8 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and four interceptions. 

2015: North Carolina goes 11-1 in the regular season, comes close to beating Clemson in the ACC title game and finishes with its highest win total since 1997. While Trubisky completed 85 percent of his passes and threw six touchdowns against no interceptions, Williams throws for 3,068 yards with 24 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, and rushes for 948 yards and 13 touchdowns.

“That success we had as a team with Marquise made it hard for us to pull him out of the lineup,” Heckendorf said. “And I think if (Williams’ success in 2013) hadn’t happened, there may be a completely different conversation. It was not for a lack of talent, it was not because he wasn’t capable, but it’s hard to take a guy who had the success — not only as the team winning but individually — as Marquise had and put him on the bench for an unproven commodity.”

It wasn’t that North Carolina coaches didn’t know what they had in Trubisky, who impressed Heckendorf when he had those limited chances in 2014 and 2015. 

“Typically, you look across the country, you put your backup quarterback in and you hand it off,” Heckendorf said. “… Every time we put him in there, we were dialing up throws to let him do what he did best. And I think that showed the confidence that (offensive coordinator Seth Littrell) had in him as well as everybody on our staff.”

Trubisky felt like he deserved to be North Carolina’s starting quarterback, but it would’ve been a bold change for Larry Fedora to make in Year 3 or Year 4 of his tenure in Chapel Hill, which are generally of the most important seasons for the longevity of a college football coach. 

A positive view of the future

With Ryan Pace declaring the Bears will not have a quarterback competition in 2017, Trubisky is back to where he was his first three years at North Carolina. 

During those three years, Heckendorf said Trubisky wasn't combative or despondent about his situation, and did well to develop without much playing time on Saturdays. 

"He picks things up very quickly," Heckendorf said. "He’s like a sponge. He welcomed that criticism and he would work to go change it. And typically he didn’t make the same mistake twice, which says a lot about him and how he goes about his approach to getting better. He was great to coach."

Trubisky on Friday offered a glass-half-full assessment of his time on the bench at North Carolina as he returns to a No. 2 role in Chicago. 

“I think that experience helps me a lot for this situation,” Trubisky said. “I know how to learn behind a guy. I’m excited to learn behind Mike (Glennon). “I know how to get better when I’m not getting the starting reps or I’m not the starter. I’m just going to continue to work hard, learn from other guys, pick up as much information as possible. I’m very excited to learn from these coaches and other quarterbacks and players.” 

Mitchell Trubisky explains why Walter Payton was his favorite player growing up

Mitchell Trubisky explains why Walter Payton was his favorite player growing up

Mitchell Trubsiky endeared himself to Bears fans when he revealed the late Walter Payton was his favorite NFL player growing up.

While it may be a bit puzzling as to how Trubisky came to idolize the Bears legend considering Payton passed away in 1999 and the new Bears quarterback was only five-years-old at the time, Trubisky explained why during his introductory press conference at Halas Hall on Friday.

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"Growing up my favorite player of all time was Walter Payton so I know that about the Bears," Trubisky said. "It started in elementary school. The book I read from the library was a biography on Walter Payton.

"I just loved learning about his life and how he was as a football player on and off the field and what be brought to this special organization. I'm looking forward to wearing a Bears jersey like he did."

Check out what else Trubisky had to say about Payton and see his message to Bears fans in the video above.