Mitchell Trubisky insists he is one motivated quarterback.
He comes into a make-or-break season locked in a competition with former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles for the Bears' job, knowing his future as a starter in Chicago and maybe anywhere else is on the line.
“For me it’s very motivating,” Trubisky said Friday. “You’re always going to have people writing you off. It’s got to light a fire under you, which it has for me, and I’m just trying to prove everybody wrong and prove my teammates right. There is just so much hard work that goes into it. And for people who write you off, I mean, that definitely motivates you in a way that you just want to go out there and play as best you possibly can. So I’m definitely fired up.”
The competition with Foles is kicking into gear with players back at teams' facilities and camps ramping up.
The COVID-19 pandemic wiped out offseason workouts and preseason games. Players won't be in pads until the week of Aug. 17 after the league and union opted to focus on strength and conditioning in the early going.
That means Trubisky and Foles won't have much time to make their case for the No. 1 spot, with the opener scheduled for Sept. 13 at Detroit. Every read in practice, every move in the facility, figures to come under more intense scrutiny from coach Matt Nagy and his staff as they try to decide who should be the starter.
“I think the big thing is just don’t focus on winning (the competition),” Foles said. “I’d say the big thing is focus on getting to be myself out there on the field and when a play is called, playing to the best of my ability.”
Both quarterbacks have something to prove after disappointing seasons.
Trubisky took a big step back in his third year since the Bears used the No. 2 pick in the 2017 draft to take him ahead of Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson — a sore spot in Chicago. And the heat on him only intensified last season, as the Bears missed the playoffs at 8-8 after winning the NFC North in 2018.
Trubisky's yards (3,138), completion rate (63.2%), touchdowns (17) and rating (83) all dropped from the previous year. And Chicago's offense ranked among the NFL's worst.
Trubisky played much of last year with his left arm in a sling after partially tearing the labrum in his non-throwing shoulder. He needed surgery after the season to repair an injury he says has healed “110%.”
Though there were problems all around the offense, it was no surprise when the Bears decided to bring in a quarterback to push Trubisky.
They acquired Foles, the 2018 Super Bowl MVP with Philadelphia, from Jacksonville in March. About six weeks later, they declined their fifth-year option for 2021 on Trubisky.
“Hopefully this competition just makes our whole quarterback room and our whole offense even better, which I think it will,” Trubisky said.
Foles went from leaving Philadelphia to sign an $88 million contract with the Jaguars to playing in just four games in an injury-riddled season while losing his starting job to Gardner Minshew. Now, he's trying to beat out Trubisky.
“You know when he makes a great throw, I’m going to be right there to slap him a five and then they’ll probably have to like to sanitize our hands, but I’m going to do it,” Foles said. "That’s part of this thing. It is a competition but we’re all on the same team so we’re going to push each other every day but there’s got to be a healthy way to do it.”
Trubisky spent a big chunk of the offseason poring over video, dissecting what went wrong, and working on his strength and conditioning as well as mechanics. He also stayed in the area and was able to get in some on-field work with his teammates.
That's something Foles, who lives in California, was not able to do. But he knows the system and has strong relationships with Nagy from their time together in Philadelphia and Kansas City as well as several assistants.
Foles said he “loves” competitions as long as they don't become “toxic.” And he's embracing this one.
“Whoever is the best person at executing this offense, that can help the Chicago Bears win games and lead this team should be the starter," Foles said. "And the other guys will be there to support him.”