Horse blinders and ear muffs apparently can only block out so much when "everyone is talking about how bad we are and what we're doing wrong," the poster boy for the Bears' ineptitude on offense, Mitch Trubisky, pointed out Wednesday.
Our visit with the embattled third-year quarterback was notable on a few fronts, perhaps none more so than his clear edginess after one of his worst games as a pro came on the heels of Trubisky appearing more thoughtful and relaxed as he returned from his injury layoff to his weekly Halas Hall appearance a week ago.
"I think that just makes me even more motivated to pull my brothers together, work even harder and do a little extra, but I've had the same sense of urgency every singe day," Trubisky said of how he's attempting to channel the outside noise.
Trubisky talked a couple hours after Matt Nagy candidly discussed the quarterback's confidence "not being at an all-time high" and the Bears' approach to fixing it — "yelling and screaming with a quarterback usually doesn't work."
After all, as Nagy explained, repairing a quarterback's confidence requires tends to be more nuanced and handled with optimism. Although it was the public sideline chiding caught on the "Monday Night Football" telecast that seemed to light a temporary fire under Trubisky in Washington, Nagy said that has to be selective and spoke of the fragility — not of his quarterback specifically — in general when working with any quarterback's psyche during trying times.
"Showing that you have confidence and ultimate trust regardless of what goes down. Because this game is very mental. Very mental. And at that position, you gotta … just as physically strong and as many traits as you have as a quarterback, you’ve got to be mentally strong — whether it’s on the field or off the field. So you need a support system. And that’s why I refuse to [get negative]. With our quarterback, I want to make sure that he understands that we’re going through this thing and we are going to help everybody out, including him, as much as we can."
To Nagy's credit, Trubisky mentioned his coach's approach, and his teammates continuing to point thumbs instead of fingers, as "the reasons that makes coming to work every day still fun and you believe you're going to push through this."
Make no mistake, there's much pushing through required. Nagy first explained Monday — again, with impressive honesty and detail — how the root of Trubisky's struggles Sunday vs. the Saints were his "just OK footwork," That obviously has an adverse effect on all of the other critical quarterbacking components in which Trubisky was lacking, from accuracy to field vision to overall composure and consistency.
"For Mitch right now, that's the biggest challenge for all of us is what we want as offensive play-callers, as offensive coaches, is for that to be -- it's never going to be perfect -- but to be as effective as possible," Nagy said when asked for his assessment of Trubisky's mental approach in Sunday's game.
"So what does that mean? Well, that's timing. And timing is related to footwork," "And I think in general, then it's repetitions at specific plays that he feels comfortable in. So is it where we want it to be? No, it's not. But we want to make sure that we're helping him as much as we can to get to that point to where he feels extremely comfortable."
Trubisky echoed his coach, admitting his pocket poise and footwork were off, perhaps in part because of the nearly two-game layoff with injury, and said the focus is on getting back to finding his comfort level. He also owned the failed RPO — which Nagy first pointed out Monday — on first-and-10 in scoring territory that led to an eight-yard sack and an embarrassing read-by-read deconstruction on Twitter.
"That was just bad by me," he said, adding that a handoff or quick throw to the side he's initially reading would have been better decisions.
Here's the thing: Nagy admitted he was also the target of ridicule while at Delaware for his lack of pocket awareness.
"I did have happy feet, so I can relate at times. I used to get made fun of in college," he said.
Trubisky hopefully finds comfort in that, too, but fact is, Nagy was still in a college career that led ultimately to the AFL, not to being the No. 2 overall pick in the draft.
Trubisky knows the criticism is warranted — and what must be done for it to end.
"I think it is a great opportunity to see how mentally tough we are and how we can pull together and how we can push through this thing," he said.