After the loss to the Detroit Lions two weeks ago, Mitchell Trubisky said that this season had left him "mentally hardened."
The quarterback had been benched in Week 3, injured in Week 8 and returned to game action in a Week 11 loss to the Green Bay Packers. After snapping a six-game losing streak, Trubisky has kept his edge from earlier in the season.
"Mentally, I don't feel like I can be fazed right now," said Trubisky, "just where my focus is at, and that has nothing to do with how you're going to perform or outcomes or results. But I just think where I'm at mentally, I'm focused. I know exactly what I want, I'm driven, I'm bringing a certain presence and energy to the facility every day that my teammates could feed off of."
Trubisky has completed over 70 percent of his passes in the last two games after posting a 58.3 rate in his first four starts of the year. Trubisky attributes this change to a new approach: taking what the defense will give him.
"For me, it's just seeing the defense well," said Trubisky, "studying a lot throughout the week and just seeing where they give up easy completions and where they're going to make us earn our yards, and we've just got to be good with the ball in our hands, and I've got to get the ball to our playmakers, so it's all about being efficient for this offense."
Trubisky's first start back from injury, the 41-25 loss to the Packers, saw some of the forward progress that marked the offensive performance against the Lions and Houston Texans. However, Trubisky's three turnovers negated the positive attention that his three touchdowns might have garnered.
Both of Trubisky's interceptions came on deep throws into double-coverage. The quarterback called his return "a learning experience" and has since looked to making safer throws.
"I think you're always going out there having a game plan and wanting to be aggressive," said Trubisky. "But at the end of the day for me, you've got to find completions, and I think anytime for me when I find a completion, and I get the ball into a playmaker's hands, I think good things are going to happen."
Trubisky sees the short completions as a way to build momentum and keep the Bears out of the third-and-long situations that have vexed the offense the past two seasons. The game plan also seems to be accentuating the quarterback's strengths.
"I do feel comfortable," said Trubisky. "After getting benched and being able to go back in, this is just kind of some of the things I've been asking for. I feel like they are strengths of mine and also strengths of this offense. I just thought it was a good idea to get Cole [Kmet] more involved, to get David [Montgomery] more involved, to get A-Rob (Allen Robinson II) more involved."
The rookie Kmet has nine catches in the past two games, more than the previous 11 games combined. Montgomery has topped 100 yards in all three games since Trubisky's return, while Robinson has recorded three touchdown catches.
"You just gotta get the ball to your playmakers out in space," said Trubisky, "and stretch the field horizontally and vertically but also keeping the defense off balance, and I think the change in tempo really helps this offense. I think moving the pocket really helps me and helps our offensive line, and also helps create run lanes."
The changes have led to an offense that has moved the ball and put points on the board. Trubisky seems to have established an ownership over the offense that eluded him in his three previous seasons in Chicago.
"These are things I'm very comfortable with," said Trubisky, "things I've been asking for, and I think everyone's buying into it, and I think we're starting to build an identity. We just need to keep getting better and better."
While the future is unclear for the Bears and Trubisky, his new mindset has contributed to his most robust back-to-back performances in two years.
"Can't change the past," said Trubisky. "I can't put myself back in the game a couple weeks ago or anything like that. It's got to continue with this constant communication, having the open dialogue and always doing what is best for the Bears offense."