Tru­bisky re­in­forces faith of Bears and fans in de­but

USA TODAY International Edition - - SPORTS - FOL­LOW COLUM­NIST NANCY AR­MOUR @nrar­mour for com­men­tary on the lat­est in sports. Nancy Ar­mour nar­mour@us­ato­day.com USA TO­DAY Sports

The Chicago Bears still CHICAGO aren’t go­ing to be good this year. They have been hit too hard by in­juries and can’t get out of their own way when it comes to costly penal­ties.

With Mitchell Tru­bisky, how­ever, they are go­ing to be fun.

The No. 2 pick, mak­ing his first NFL start, cost the Bears the game against the Min­nesota Vik­ings on Mon­day night, throw­ing an in­ter­cep­tion just be­fore the two-minute warn­ing that even folks in the cheap seats could see com­ing. Six plays — and one Bears penalty — later, Kai For­bath kicked his sec­ond 26-yard field goal of the night and the Vik­ings had crashed Tru­bisky’s party with their 20-17 win.

But Tru­bisky showed enough ath­leti­cism, mo­bil­ity and moxie to re­in­force the faith the Bears and their fans have al­ready put in him.

Af­ter decades of bum­bling from one bad quar­ter­back to an­other (Re­mem­ber Cade McNown? How about Jonathan Quinn? Who can for­get the glo­ri­ous Shane Matthews era?), Chicago might fi­nally have found its fran­chise guy.

“He’s got what it takes. There’s no doubt in my mind,” Bears coach John Fox said.

Fox even dropped Joe Mon­tana’s name, then wisely thought bet­ter of it. The ex­pec­ta­tions for Tru­bisky al­ready border on the un­re­al­is­tic, what with the en­tire city look­ing at him and see­ing the grid­iron ver­sion of Kris Bryant and An­thony Rizzo.

But Tru­bisky will make the Bears en­ter­tain­ing, and that’s more than they’ve been able to say in a long, long time.

Take his 18-yard com­ple­tion to Tre McBride III in the first quar­ter. The Vik­ings had brought pres­sure, so Tru­bisky rolled out, scan­ning the field as he ran. Spot­ting McBride, he fired a laser that many quar­ter­backs couldn’t have man­aged stand­ing still.

Or his 13-yard scram­ble in the third quar­ter to keep what would be the ty­ing drive alive. Af­ter find­ing Zach Miller in the back of the end zone, thanks to a lit­tle help from Vik­ings safety An­drew Sen­dejo, Tru­bisky fin­ished off a wacky, dou­ble-re­serve two-point con­ver­sion.

Tru­bisky handed off to Jor­dan Howard, who gave the ball to Miller, who then pitched it back to Tru­bisky. As Tru­bisky sprinted into the end zone, Sol­dier Field erupted in a rau­cous roar.

“Sweet, right?” Tru­bisky said, a grin cross­ing his face.

It’s plays like that, plays that Mike Glen­non couldn’t have pulled off if you’d given him five years of prac­tice, that will keep Bears fans in­vested even as the team grinds through an­other los­ing sea­son and Tru­bisky has his grow­ing pains.

Be­cause those are go­ing to hap­pen. Tru­bisky started all of 13 games at North Carolina, and his raw­ness is as ap­par­ent as his tal­ent. That in­ter­cep­tion came on a throw he never should have made, a bro­ken play that was all but tele­graphed for Pro Bowl safety Har­ri­son Smith.

There will be a time when Tru­bisky is able to con­jure some­thing out of noth­ing. For now, though, the de­fen­sive backs are faster, smarter and sneakier than any­thing he saw in col­lege, and they’re go­ing to have the edge ev­ery time.

“It is just a learn­ing process just like any­thing else,” Tru­bisky ac­knowl­edged. “Ob­vi­ously the win­dows are tighter and ... the guys know how to be de­cep­tive and they know how to close the win­dows faster.”

But Tru­bisky has al­ready proved to be a quick study. As abysmal as Glen­non was — five in­ter­cep­tions in four games — Fox and gen­eral man­ager Ryan Pace wouldn’t have turned the of­fense over to their prized rookie this early in the sea­son un­less they were sure he could han­dle it.

His num­bers weren’t great: 12for-25, 128 yards, a 60.1 passer rat­ing. But they weren’t any worse than the Bears would have got­ten from any of their other re­cent quar­ter­backs.

“For a first out­ing, I thought he was re­ally good. I know his team­mates feel the same way,” Fox said. “He’ll just get bet­ter with time.”

Buckle up, Bears fans. The ride is still go­ing to be rocky, but it’s go­ing to be a whole lot more fun.

MATT MAR­TON, USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Bears rookie quar­ter­back Mitchell Tru­bisky dis­played a nice com­bi­na­tion of ath­leti­cism, mo­bil­ity and moxie against the Vik­ings on Mon­day night.

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