The end of the Bears' quarterback competition provides a new beginning for Mitchell Trubisky, who edged veteran Nick Foles for the starting job.
"It's just the first step in my goal for this season," Trubisky said Sunday on a video call with reporters. "I was pleased with the training camp I had. I think I've done a great job leading these guys and just showing how much I want to lead this team and be their quarterback. I feel like I got rewarded for it, but it's the first step in this process to have a successful season this year for this team."
With all NFL preseason games cancelled due to COVID-19, the entire competition was held on the Halas Hall practice fields during three weeks of training camp in August. Trubisky was anointed the winner in large part because of the improvement he showed with his footwork, accuracy, decision-making and willingness to stay in the pocket.
"I spent a lot of time this offseason doing footwork, a lot of drills in the pocket, moving around defenders, keeping my feet set, and then just finishing with balance," Trubisky said. "That's allowed me to be more consistent and more accurate, and I just feel like I've gotten a lot better in that area, and that's what I need to focus on coming from last year to this year, just staying in the pocket, moving as little as possible but still keeping my base and footwork to allow just accurate and consistent throws.
"I felt like the offseason I had, that the coaches definitely saw that as improvement throughout training camp, and that just needs to continue to translate to the game. That's just execution in practice and keep doing the drills that I've been doing this offseason.
"I feel pretty good with where I'm at, and I think it's just confidence. The drills I've done have given me more confidence in the pocket, and just knowing the offense, being another year in the offense gives me confidence, and then just showing that [confidence] to the rest of the guys on the offense. So just exuding confidence every day that I know exactly what I'm doing and having those guys feed off that."
Trubisky was named to the Pro Bowl in 2018 after helping the Bears win the NFC North with a 12-4 record. In his first season as a full-time starter, he connected on 66.6 percent of his passes for 3,223 yards with 24 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a 95.4 passer rating. He also rushed for 421 yards and three TDs on 68 carries. But Trubisky and the rest of the offense failed to perform up to expectations in 2019; the Bears ranked 29th in both scoring and total yards, finishing in third place in their division with an 8-8 record.
His performance last year—coupled with adversity he was forced to weather during the offseason—provided a huge source of motivation.
"I'm a believer that everything happens for a reason one way or another," Trubisky said. "So [the Bears] not picking up my [fifth-year] option and bringing in competition, I truly believe that it was just a part of my journey and something I had to deal with in order to get better. 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. And I think the way I handled it and was respectful to everyone else and also just being so welcoming to Nick and developing that relationship to help our team, I think everyone saw that. And our teammates have just fed off that. So it's been a rewarding journey, but like I said it's just one of the first steps. I believe everything happens for a reason and we're just going to try to keep getting better, myself included."
“I control my own destiny and I’m definitely not going to take this opportunity for granted.” Mitchell Trubisky
With the season opener looming next Sunday in Detroit, Trubisky intends to maintain the same glass half-full mentality that guided him through the quarterback competition.
"I kind of just made a conscious decision," Trubisky said, "that no matter what happens, I'm going to have a positive outlook on this and I'm just going to go into it believing that this is just going to make me a mentally tougher person and that I'm going to come out better on the other side.
"I wasn't too worried about the outcomes. I was more worried about myself continuing to grow as a person. I think this whole process really pushed me in that area; to just become mentally tougher, not worry about what people are saying about it on the outside. And just really get down to focusing on what I have to improve as a quarterback and as a person and as a leader to help this thing. I was more focused on those things than anything else. And I think that's where I've seen the most growth."
Trubisky is excited about being given the opportunity to show that growth as the Bears' starting quarterback.
"I mean, that's really all you can ask for," he said. "I control my own destiny and I'm definitely not going to take this opportunity for granted. I feel like I got a fresh, new, clean slate. And that's how every year should feel. And after coming out of a competition like that, it's got that sort of feel to it—that it's a new year and we all have a clean slate, and we're not looking back at the past.
"I'm not looking over my shoulder. I'm just going to take advantage of the opportunity ahead and it feels good. It's exciting. I know we're all eager to get ready for this year and play [next] weekend. So it's time to roll, and we've just got to continue this mindset and stay mentally focused in this place to go out there and play great football."