Mitchell Trubisky's twisting road of a season took a pleasant turn Sunday against the Houston Texans.
Facing off against Deshaun Watson, a fellow member of the 2017 draft class and perennial point of comparison for the Bears quarterback, Trubisky played his most complete game of the season in a 36-7 victory.
"I thought I was efficient," said Trubisky. "I just went out there today and took what the defense gave us. They tried to show us different looks and mixed in some man and zone [coverages], but I just wanted to find the underneath completions and let these skill players just go to work with the ball in their hands, make them tackle our ballcarriers."
Trubisky completed 24 of 33 passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns. The Bears went into halftime with a 30-7 lead, and the offense scored in the third quarter for only the second time this season.
"When you score points, you have a chance to win," said coach Matt Nagy. "And we're scoring points right now and some of the stuff we're doing, using [Trubisky's] legs, doing different things schematically, is able to give us an advantage in the plays, and I appreciate that. He's doing great."
Since retaking the starting spot from Nick Foles, Trubisky has benefitted from a more balanced offense. However, this does not seem to be a coincidence. The Bears have rushed for over 100 yards in each of Trubisky's six starts while failing to reach that number in all seven starts by Foles.
"We had some good stuff in the run game that definitely helped us in the pass game," said Trubisky. "For me, it just allowed me to find completions, take us down the field, and it was really good that we finished in the end zone. We just want to keep finishing with touchdowns and keep continuing to get better."
While Trubisky's first two starts after returning from a shoulder injury ended in disappointing defeats by divisional rivals, Nagy believes the fourth-year quarterback's progress has been apparent since he took over after the Bears' bye week.
"I go back to that Green Bay game," said Nagy. "We got behind really early. He was doing it then. I thought last week he played a really good game, with decision-making, making plays. He's in a good place right now. He's executing what we're asking him to do. I appreciate that about him."
After David Montgomery scored an 80-yard touchdown on the Bears' first offensive play, Trubisky completed his first eight passes, culminating in a five-yard touchdown to tight end Jimmy Graham. Trubisky said he was not conscious of his completion streak while it was happening.
"I think 'dialed in' would be a good word for it because I don't even necessarily remember that," said Trubisky. "Today, my goal was to go out there and be present and just play each play as its own entity and whatever happens, happens, and then the next play it's a next-play mentality."
Trubisky continued his reliable connection to receiver Allen Robinson II, who caught nine passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. After the game, Robinson credited his success with Trubisky to "overcommunication."
"That's where we're taking it to the next level," said Robinson, "and for us to do that all across the board, offense, defense, or whatever, it has to be that level of detail, that level of attention to be able to finish how we want to finish."
Trubisky continued to thrive in a hurry-up offense even though the Bears' consistent lead meant that Trubisky only had to operate under a time crunch at the end of the first half. Trubisky led a 77-yard drive in 1:37, culminating in his touchdown to Robinson.
"It's a mechanism for us that really dials our guys in because there's no dilly-dallying or anything," said Trubisky. "You get up, get to the line, know your assignment, and the defense has to get in their assignment. There were a couple times that we could get them out of position by using that tempo."
The Texans rank near the bottom of the league in defense, but Trubisky's performance still carries meaning. The Bears have played plenty of leaky defenses over the past two seasons, but Sunday marked their first double-digit win since Week 4 of 2019 against the Minnesota Vikings, a game in which Trubisky barely played due to injury.
"I think we're starting to establish rhythm on offense," said Trubisky, "and then the defense doesn't necessarily know what's coming, the run or the pass, and we're able to avoid third downs and just move the ball down the field and stay in a rhythm. It's an ongoing process. We're still trying to establish that identity, but I think we're starting to find one."
Nagy has discussed finding an offensive identity for three seasons, but the balanced attack with Trubisky on the move has proven to be the most successful iteration of his offense.
"I think we just need to continue to run the ball well," said Trubisky, "and off that, just have a bunch of bootlegs and nakeds and keep taking what the defense gives us. You see the positive plays on first and second down—If we can just stay out of those third-and-long situations, which we have, and we just keep moving the ball down the field and keep our defense off the field and let them do their thing."
One week after the team seemed to fall apart against the Detroit Lions, all three phases of the game improved. While Trubisky felt the team could have finished stronger, he was pleased with the team's direction.
"I thought we could've locked in a little more in the second half," said Trubisky, "and finished some more drives off with touchdowns instead of field goals, but that's something to build off this week. The way we're working in practice right now, our mindset of these guys, just the way they're coming to work, they deserve this win today."