CHICAGO — On the way back to the press box after Thursday night's Bears-Browns preseason game, a veteran Chicago beat writer entered the elevator shaking his head.
"That could've been a fireable offense if (Mitch) Trubisky had gotten hurt," he said.
Everyone else nodded in agreement.
Coach John Fox had dodged a bullet.
It's his team, his staff, his game plan week after week. I agree. Some things you just don't question.
But the decision to play No. 2 pick Trubisky, anointed as the Bears' franchise quarterback, in the final 2:00 of a 25-0 loss was questionable.
This was a scrimmage, not the Super Bowl.
Trubisky started the game, then gave way to Connor Shaw at 8:57 of the second quarter and should've taken a seat for the rest of the night.
Instead, Fox sent him in with 2:23 left in the game, then went back to Shaw at 1:25. But he got hurt 21 seconds later and Trubisky finished up.
The game ended with him being sacked for a 5-yard loss at the Browns' 14. I would've preferred seeing Mark Sanchez on the turf, instead.
It was a stressful preseason, health-wise, for the Bears as Shaw (hamstring), linebacker Lamarr Houston (knee), receiver Victor Cruz (knee), safeties Harold Jones-Quartey (hamstring) and Deiondre' Hall (hamstring) were all injured Thursday.
Cornerback Prince Amukamara (ankle), receiver Cam Meredith (torn ACL) and long snapper Patrick Scales (torn ACL) had gone down against Tennessee last Sunday.
The fact Fox exposed Trubisky to serious injury has to shake your confidence in a coach who's spent most of his life in the NFL.
Late in a meaningless game and with a suspect offensive line, you have Trubisky throwing incomplete with 11 seconds to go. Why not kick a field goal and not risk another injury?
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“Anytime you go out there it’s a risk, truth be told," Fox said. "I saw a journalist refer to some point when we won’t be able to practice any more. Football is a rough game, no doubt. You never want to see people get hurt, but it is part of the game.
"I don’t know that we 'exposed' Mitchell a whole lot, but at the same time, when you step in between those lines, you’re exposed.”
Didn't that final sack make you wince just a bit?
“I think it’s fair to say it won’t be the first time he’s been hit and it won’t be the last," Fox replied. "He really hasn’t had a lot of experience. Like any young player, the more they are out there, experience is very valuable.
“I thought he handled it well, particularly at the end. He wanted to throw the ball. I appreciate that.”
Trubisky took the media's second-guessing and Fox's questionable judgement in stride, saying he gained quite a bit from every minute on the field.
“Just more snaps, and more film to watch, and some rookie mistakes that I need to improve," he said.
"Reps are never a bad thing in my opinion. The more you can get, the better off you will be.”
But you could've gotten hurt, maybe missed the entire season, and for what?
"If I was in there, I wanted to score," Trubisky said. "I never worry about injury. I'm out there to play football.
"When you worry about (injuries), that's when they happen.
"It was fun being there in the end. It was exciting and got the adrenaline going. Too bad we couldn't score."
I admire your competitive fire, but with 19,370 no-shows at Soldier Field and the game out of reach?
Makes no sense to me.