Playoffs Upon Bears, Trubisky's Time Has Arrived

Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (10)
Photo credit Matt Cashore/USA Today Sports
LAKE FOREST (670 The Score) -- Since well before his time with the Bears, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has studied some of the game's greats as his position. He watched the likes of Tom Brady and Drew Brees while growing up, taking notes along the way.

What ultimately defines a player like Brady and Brees, more than the historic numbers, is winning in the postseason. Fair or not, that's how the legacy of a quarterback is remembered.

"We can talk about (legacies) when I'm a lot older," Trubisky said Wednesday with a smile.

Trubisky's time has arrived. The Bears took an outdoor practice field at Halas Hall on Wednesday to begin their preparation for the wild-card matchup against the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles at Soldier Field on Sunday.

While this Bears team is built to win with a dominant defense, strong play from Trubisky would certainly help lead Chicago deep into the playoffs and perhaps all the way to the Super Bowl.

And while the 24-year-old Trubisky isn't thinking about the added stakes, coach Matt Nagy said the message to his leader is simple.

"To not change," Nagy said. "For him to continue to do just what he does. Don't put any added extra pressure on himself."

Trubisky completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 3,223 yards, 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in his second NFL season and first working with Nagy. In some games, he was a primary reason why the Bears won. In others, he was simply why they didn't lose. When it was all said and done, Trubisky led the Bears to an 11-3 mark in his 14 starts, and the team finished 12-4 to earn their first trip to the playoffs in eight years.

Toward the end of the season, Nagy and the Bears appeared to pull back with Trubisky and aim for efficiency instead of elite play. The offense often operated with passes inside of 10 yards. It seemed as if Nagy was acknowledging what Trubisky needed to do for the Bears to be successful, putting the next step of his development on the backburner for this offseason.

Perhaps the Bears will rely more on Trubisky's arm when the Eagles visit, looking to exploit a secondary that has been riddled by injuries. There appear to be some potential mismatches for the Bears in targeting 5-foot-9 rookie cornerback Avonte Maddox, while second-year pro Rasul Douglas wasn't the Eagles' original starter at cornerback.

Trubisky pointed to his appreciation for how the Bears have adapted on offense, taking the matchups they like for each game and using every weapon at their disposal -- sometimes even defensive players.

The key for Trubisky will be staying within himself and his schemes as the stage gets bigger and the spotlight becomes brighter. His struggles in a season of mixed results came as the byproduct of poor pocket mechanics -- a fast internal clock, rushed reads and sloppy throws.

As his own harshest critic, Trubisky has recognized those mistakes.

"Those are great learning experiences," Trubisky said.

The Bears attempted to replicate the success of a franchise like the Eagles by building a talented team around their young quarterback's rookie contract. That allowed them to pay star outside linebacker Khalil Mack a record-breaking contract and to splurge for offensive weapons in Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton.

The hope has been for Trubisky to maximize his arsenal, develop into a franchise quarterback and make the Bears a perennial playoff team. Growth has been evident, even if there's a long ways to go.

"You’re definitely seeing a confidence level improve from a year ago," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said of Trubisky. "You can definitely see what coaching can do with a young player with him and what they’ve done and what Matt (Nagy) has done and working with him. And then you’re just seeing him just kind of have no fear at times. 

"You’re definitely seeing that confidence in him. It’s helping them win a lot of games this year."

Trubisky doesn't have to be the reason why the Bears win playoff games. Whether it's a superstar in Mack, Pro Bowl players in Akiem Hicks, Eddie Jackson and Kyle Fuller or even a workhorse running back in Jordan Howard, there are plenty of pieces capable of helping lead Chicago deep into the playoffs.

But the Bears also can thrive this postseason because of the play of the promising Trubisky, whose tenure with this team -- however long it may be -- will always carry these results.

Trubisky's time has come and his legacy as Bears quarterback will be told first with playoff games like these.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.​​​