Mitchell Trubisky wants the Bears to take away the right lessons from Sunday's 35-16 loss to the Green Bay Packers.
With the team beginning preparation for its second playoff appearance in three years, Trubisky will encourage the team to stay positive and take advantage of the postseason bid. He doesn't want Sunday's game to affect how the Bears approach their preparation to play the New Orleans Saints.
In a season with ups and downs, Trubisky knows better than anyone how quickly one's luck can turn around.
"You're obviously analyzing your emotions," said Trubisky, "and it's OK to look at the game tonight, but it's gotta be in a positive fashion because there's things we did tonight that we could get better at, but there's also things that we did that weren't really good, so we've just gotta look at it, make sure we're getting better."
Trubisky can walk away from the game with some positives. For most of the game, the Bears played efficiently on offense, accomplishing their goals of moving the ball and dominating time of possession.
On the first drive of the game, the Bears took 14 plays and half of the first quarter to march 60 yards en route to a two-yard touchdown by running back David Montgomery.
"That's ideally what you would like the other drives to look like," said Trubisky, "when we're controlling the ball, staying on the field and then converting third or fourth downs and then finishing in the end zone. That definitely gave us a lot of confidence early on."
Unfortunately for Trubisky, the Bears' patient approach did not lead to any more touchdowns in the game. Trubisky completed 33 of 42 passes for 252 yards but ended the day with no touchdowns and one interception.
In five trips to the red zone, the Bears reached the end zone once.
"The ball control part of it was good," said Trubisky, "staying on the field and converting first downs. And then where we can take it to the next level, obviously, when you're controlling the ball and having success staying on the field is not settling for field goals because it really doesn't matter if you have the ball all that time and you're settling for field goals."
Trubisky accepts the blame for the Bears' inefficiency in the red zone while also giving credit to the Packers' defense for their execution. However, the team won't face porous defenses in the playoffs, and Trubisky knows that they won't make it out of New Orleans if they have to settle for short field goals.
"When we get down to the red zone," said Trubisky, "the most important thing for us is coming away with a touchdown. So we've got to definitely look at this game and see what we did in the red zone and see what we can do better this week and have a great red zone study going into our playoff game because staying on the field is important, keeping our defense off the field and letting them rest."
Trubisky proved to be the answer to some of the Bears' offensive woes when he returned as the team's starter in Week 12, and Sunday's game was closer than the final score indicated. The game left the fourth-year quarterback with something to build on.
"I feel like I've gotten better over these last couple weeks," said Trubisky. "For the most part in that game, we were in a good position to compete towards the end. We just let it get out of hand. Really, that fourth-and-1 was really the turning point for us. When the game was 21-16, we were going down to score. We were there to compete but we've got to be able to finish games."
The Bears converted five fourth-down attempts in the game, but the lone failed conversion loomed large. With the team well-positioned to take the lead in the fourth quarter, the Bears called a rollout pass on and 4th-and-1 deep in Packers territory. No receivers were open, and Trubisky's pass intended for Allen Robinson II fell incomplete.
"I thought that was a situation where they had a better call on than we did," said Trubisky, "and they executed better than we did. I think credit goes to them. I think the only thing we could've done in that situation was maybe run something else against that look, but it's a tough play."
Nearly three-fourths of Trubisky's passing attempts went to three players: receiver Darnell Mooney, running back David Montgomery and tight end Cole Kmet.
The Bears' coaching staff should be pleased in the performance of their two rookies. Mooney finished with 11 catches for 93 yards, and Kmet finished with seven catches for 41 yards.
The bigger issue was the absence of Robinson from the offense. The team's leading receiver was targeted five times in the game and only once in the first half. Robinson finished with two catches for 37 yards.
"We had in the plan for Mooney to get the ball," said Trubisky, "I think early on they were just giving us looks that were more advantageous to go to Mooney than to A-Rob. But I think our offense is at our best when we're really doing well and in a rhythm."
Mooney and Kmet took advantage of their increased workload to record career-highs in catches. However, Trubisky believes that involving Robinson more will help the Bears' red-zone woes next week against the Saints.
"When we're finishing down in the red zone is when [Robinson] is getting his hands on the ball," said Trubisky, "so we're going to have to look at that. I wasn't aware of it early on that he wasn't touching the football. You've got to have your best receiver definitely involved early."