Bears general manager Ryan Pace said Monday that he's "really proud" of how quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has responded to adversity.
Trubisky was named to the Pro Bowl in 2018 after helping the Bears win the NFC North with a 12-4 record. But after he was part of an offense that failed to perform up to expectations last season, the Bears acquired veteran Nick Foles to compete for the starting quarterback job and declined Trubisky's fifth-year option.
Instead of folding, Trubisky channeled those obstacles into motivation and ultimately won the quarterback battle, showing improvement with his footwork, accuracy and decision-making in training camp practices.
"There was a lot of blame to go around last year," Pace told reporters. "We could've been better in a lot of areas. Of course, being the quarterback, he takes the brunt of a lot of that. Then we trade for a quarterback and then we don't exercise the fifth-year option and all these things happen. And the moment camp started, the moment he walked in the building, you just felt a different presence and a different mindset, and that carried him throughout camp. I'm just proud of the way he's conducted himself."
Trubisky acknowledged Sunday that he was driven by his subpar 2019 season and the tough offseason that followed.
"I truly believe that it was just a part of my journey and something I had to deal with in order to get better," Trubisky said. "I believe the way you deal with things is going to determine how it builds you up, and it only makes you better in the long run. I just accepted it as a challenge. It really pushed me every day mentally to just want to get better and want to prove everyone wrong and make sure that this was still my team."
Pace believes the difficulties that Trubisky has experienced in his first three NFL seasons will benefit him the rest of his career.
"I do think that Mitch, whatever word you want to use—calloused, hardened—whatever it is, Mitch naturally, as a young player that has gone through what he's gone through, I think he's naturally gained a lot of that," Pace said. "It's not like he's walking around here mad all the time; it's just more of a kind of a focused, calloused feel to him that I think you need to play quarterback in this league—not just in Chicago but to play quarterback in the league in general, and I think he's developed a lot of that."
“The moment he walked in the building, you just felt a different presence and a different mindset, and that carried him throughout camp.” Bears GM Ryan Pace
Trubisky demonstrated that laser focus throughout training camp, narrowly edging Foles to retain the Bears' starting quarterback job the 2017 first-round draft pick has held since the fifth game of his rookie season.
"The first thing with Mitch is he had a good camp, and then taking that into the regular season is obviously the objective," Pace said. "I think, overall, his decision-making, we felt like that's improving. And as he builds, you feel his command and comfort level in the offense. That's real. We've added a lot of pieces around him that I think are going to benefit him when you talk about what we've done at tight end and receiver and in the run game.
"Mitch is a playing with a lot of confidence right now. You can feel it in his comfort level in the offense and his command with the offense. I think Nick's also had a very good camp. And again, we just appreciate the teammate and the person that Nick is, just in regards to how he handled everything. We're lucky to have him as a Chicago Bear."
While Pace regularly provided his input, he stressed that the decision to anoint Trubisky the Bears' No. 1 quarterback was made solely by coach Matt Nagy.
"Matt and I discussed it constantly," Pace said. "We shared each other's thoughts. I would listen. I would be a sounding board. But this is strictly his decision. I think with Matt, kind of like how we do the draft, it's very collaborative. You take a lot of opinions. But at the end of the day, it's his call and he made that call."