After being named the winner of the Bears' quarterback competition Sunday, Mitchell Trubisky revealed that he was motivated by the adversity he experienced last season and during the offseason.
"I just accepted it as a challenge," Trubisky said at the time. "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."
Trubisky was named to the Pro Bowl in 2018 after helping the Bears win the NFC North title. But he was part of an offense that failed to perform up to expectations in 2019. During the offseason, he underwent surgery on his left shoulder, while the Bears acquired veteran Nick Foles to compete for the starting job and declined Trubisky's fifth-year option.
Those developments helped create a sizeable chip on Trubisky's shoulder that was evident as soon as he arrived at Halas Hall for training camp this summer.
"The moment he walked in the building, you just felt a different presence and a different mindset," general manager Ryan Pace said Monday. "And that carried him throughout camp. I'm just proud of the way he's conducted himself."
With the Bears continuing to prepare for Sunday's season opener in Detroit, Trubisky on Wednesday further detailed how his mentality changed.
"I think I just found my confidence this offseason when I figured out it was going to be a competition," Trubisky said. "I mean, something had to change from last year to this year. I think it was getting healthy, how I trained this offseason, how I approached it mentally, just talking to my support cast and family and friends and reaching out for advice.
"I just found my confidence again. You have to believe in yourself for your teammates and other people to believe in you. So I just came in here with a different attitude and mindset and how I'm going to approach this season. There's going to be no regrets. I'm not even worried about outcomes. I'm just worried about putting my best foot forward and staying in that mindset to allow you to play really good football."
Trubisky's teammates have noticed a difference in the quarterback as well.
"He had his back against the wall with the Bears not picking up his option and them bringing in another quarterback," said running back Tarik Cohen. "That made him have to pick up his 'A' game and he took that head on. He's not afraid to stay after and call out the running backs like, 'Let's work on this route after practice.' One day it might be the receivers: 'Let's work on this route.' He just wants to be a perfectionist. He already had that about himself, but you can just feel that he's taking it to another level."
"You have to believe in yourself for your teammates and other people to believe in you." Mitchell Trubisky
Trubisky won the quarterback competition in part due to the improvements he showed in training camp practices involving his footwork, accuracy, decision-making and willingness to remain in the pocket.
"I heard that coach Nagy challenged him on his footwork in the pocket and not flushing the pocket too early and I feel like he definitely took that challenge and ran with it," Cohen said. "He's been great about that in training camp and he's definitely finding the guys in his third and fourth read."
Trubisky's first chance to transfer those improvements from the practice field to games will come Sunday in Detroit. Given how COVID-19 has impacted the entire sports world—including the cancellation of NFL offseason practices and all preseason games—it's almost surreal that the league's regular season will begin on schedule this weekend.
"I'm excited and very anxious," Trubisky said. "It's only Wednesday, so I know we have a few practices to go before we get to gameday. So it's all about taking it one day at a time, making sure this offense is going out to practice, staying focused and executing what we've got to be great at on Sunday.
"I would say I'm just super excited. With everything going on, we're excited to kick off the season and just proud of the way our team has handled everything on and off the field and how we continue to come closer together and overcome the obstacles so we're able to kick off the season the right way."
In terms of how Nagy would like Trubisky to kick off the season, the coach discussed tempo in and out of the huddle and leading the offense to touchdowns.
"That's a big emphasis for us is, 'Let's get touchdowns' and let's try to do everything we can because when you score touchdowns, things are a lot easier," Nagy said. "As a quarterback, it doesn't always mean that has to be a special throw. Maybe that's a special decision that you made in another part of the game. That's his No. 1 deal right now is to do that. [And] stay away from making negative plays. As we all know, that can get you in a hole. But other than that, let's just do what we do and play fast."