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Trubisky making consistent steps forward
The 24 points put up by the Chicago Bears in last week's loss to Detroit inspired optimism over the progress of the offense and quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
It's a good thing, because the offense may need to begin holding up its end of the bargain after a season of watching the defense keep them in games.
With linebacker Leonard Floyd likely out for the season due to a knee injury, the Bears are losing their most dynamic defensive force. Already without four defensive starters, the Bears are going into Philadelphia to face a high-powered Eagles team on Sunday needing another strong effort from Trubisky just to have a chance.
"It's going to be about us," Trubisky said. "We're going to go in and execute. Stay manageable. Move the chains. Be efficient on third down. Finish in the red zone when we get the chance. Take what they give us and take care of the football."
Trubisky and the offense rarely did any of those at the start of his six starts. Now with just 19 starts since he was a high-school player, Trubisky is showing obvious improvement.
"I would assess that I feel like I'm getting a little bit better each day," Trubisky said. "I'm learning a lot every day, each week, and I know what's expected of me and what I need to do on a daily basis in order to be prepared. I know how to carry myself around my teammates and how to lead. So (I'm) just continuing to make sure everybody's buying in."
The most obvious place Trubisky looked at ease was in the two-minute drill.
"I would say it's pretty natural," Trubisky said. "I love those moments. That's where you've kind of seen over time where the great quarterbacks have come from - to be clutch, deliver in those moments.
"I think it makes the game that much more fun. You definitely want to deliver for your team, but it's all about staying cool, calm, collected, making sure everyone's on the same page and going down to do your job. But it just makes the game that much more exciting, but it's my job to stay calm in those situations. Hopefully, my teammates will feed off my demeanor so nobody's in a panic and everybody can just go do their job."
Good pass blocking and a 100-yard game from running back Jordan Howard didn't hurt last week. The starting offensive line was healthy - as healthy as they can be at least - and playing for the first time since the start of the New Orleans game Oct. 29.
"The offensive line, I think that was one of the first or second weeks they all played together, so we've got a lot more consistent play up front," Trubisky said. "They're an awesome group. As long as the pocket is clean, it's my job to do my job."
It's been a weekly progression for Trubisky. Going into Philadelphia could easily wind up in a step back, given the severity of the challenge. The Bears are two-touchdown underdogs in a place where they've had plenty of problems in the past.
"Every day to this point that he's taken the field, he's played better," offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. "That's what we keep telling him - keep stacking good games, we're gonna keep playing better around you, we'll keep putting you in good situations, and the wins are going to come. But you're doing a really good job not turning the ball over.
"The passing game has become more and more efficient."
The Bears ultimately want Trubisky to be in the same place as where Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is this year - leading the NFC in Pro-Bowl voting while playing for a 9-1 team.
Loggains pointed out Wentz was 1-6 starting in games that came down to a single possession last year. Trubisky this year is 1-4 in such games.
"Quarterbacks take those huge jumps from Year 1 to Year 2, and when you watch Wentz, he doesn't play like a young player anymore," Loggains said.
Trubisky has taken note of Wentz's efforts. He has a chance this weekend to leave the impression all across the league that he can be like Wentz or the Rams' Jared Goff, and become a force in the near future.
"For sure, I study all quarterbacks across the league," Trubisky said. "Me and Carson have the same agent, so I was able to spend some time with him preparing for the draft and all that. It's really expected when you're drafted high and play right away that in the second year you transition well and really deliver for your team."
SERIES HISTORY: 41st regular-season meeting. Bears lead series, 28-11-1. The Eagles have won the last two games, including 29-14 in 2015 at Soldier Field. The Eagles won the last game in Philadelphia between the teams, 54-11 in 2013. There have been three playoff games between them, the Eagles winning in 2001 33-19 and 27-17 in 1979, while the Bears won 20-12 in 1988.