Like virtually every other quarterback on the face of the earth, Mitchell Trubisky loves to throw the football. But it wasn’t difficult for Dowell Loggains to convince the rookie that the Bears’ best chance to win last Sunday’s game in Baltimore was by employing a run-oriented attack.
“It wasn’t hard at all because he wants to win,” said the Bears offensive coordinator. “He’s a team-first guy. He knows that we are going to do whatever it takes to win a game. Sometimes it’s throwing 27 straight fastballs. If that’s what it is, that is what we are going to do.
“He is also very aware in his little time in the NFL that there are going to be games—maybe this week, maybe next week, maybe a month from now—that we are going to open it up and throw it 45 times. Whatever it takes to win the game.”
Trubisky threw just 16 passes against the Ravens—completing eight for 113 yards with one touchdown—while handing off 50 times to running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. The game plan resulted in the Bears amassing the most rushing yards (231) the Ravens have ever allowed—and more importantly led to a 27-24 overtime victory.
“As a quarterback, you want to be throwing the ball, but as a competitor and leader of this team, you’re going to do whatever it takes to win and if it’s running the ball, if it’s passing the ball, whatever it is, that’s what we’re going to do,” Trubisky said.
“I didn’t feel any type of way at all about how many times we ran it, how many times we passed it. I was just excited to come away with the win and how we stuck together and came away with that win. It was awesome to see.”
The Bears knew they’d have to lean heavily on the run against the Ravens, but Loggains made an even stronger commitment to the ground game after it was evident that Baltimore was uncharacteristically lining up almost exclusively in a cover-two defense.
“They played 40 snaps of cover-two after playing one snap of cover-two the whole year,” Loggains said. “I’m sure a lot of it was to take away [Trubisky’s] strengths and certain things he does. First thing he says after the game is, ‘Wow, they did a bunch of stuff they had not shown.’
“He handled that well. That’s the part no one talks about or no one really knows outside of our building, but I thought he did a really good job managing the game and playing like he had to. He was still aggressive. I hate the term ‘manage,’ but he was playing the way he needed to play to win that game.”
One of Trubisky’s most impressive plays was an incomplete pass on the stat sheet. With the Bears facing second-and-17 from their own 13 in the third quarter, center Cody Whitehair‘s shotgun snap sailed over Trubisky’s head. The rookie quarterback averted disaster by retreating into the end zone to recover the fumble and then elude a pass rusher and throw the ball out of bounds.
“Mitch made some great plays,” said coach John Fox. “If you look at the snap over his head in the end zone, there are probably only five or six or seven quarterbacks in this league that could get out of that.”
“When that ball goes over his head, a lot of guys are going to panic and not know what to do and just react,” Loggains said. “He calmly picks up the ball and takes off running.”
Although Trubisky’s stats weren’t eye-popping, Bears coaches were very pleased with how the second pick in the draft performed in his second NFL start.
“I was really impressed by Mitchell Trubisky,” Loggains said. “I thought he made a big jump from Minnesota to this one. It’s stuff that’s not always seen by the naked eye; but taking care of the football, the throwaways, and the snap that went over his head was a critical, critical play at that time. He just made really good decisions.”
Trubisky also made a couple of excellent throws. The first one resulted in a 27-yard touchdown to tight end Dion Sims that gave the Bears a 17-3 lead midway through the third quarter.
The second one was an 18-yard completion to receiver Kendall Wright on third-and-11 from the Ravens’ 41 in overtime that set up Connor Barth‘s game-winning field goal. Trubisky eluded pressure in the pocket and flung the ball with a bit of a sidearm motion on the play.
“You draft a guy because it’s third-and-11 and if you don’t get a first down you’re punting and you don’t know what’s going to happen with the game,” Loggains said.
“We kind of messed up the protection a little bit inside and he did a great job of protecting the ball, sliding in the pocket, [showed] great pocket awareness and changed his arm angle and threw a great ball to Kendall Wright. He climbed the ladder, he got it, and helped us win the football game. That’s why you draft a kid second overall, because of things like that.”