PHILADELPHIA — This was the time to bench Mitch Trubisky.
At halftime Sunday, he’d completed 6-of-13 passes for 25 yards and taken three sacks. The Bears offense had nine yet yards, the franchise’s worst first-half showing in 40 years. The Bears faced at least 10 yards to go on 17 of their 24 first-half offensive snaps, not counting punts. The Eagles played more man coverage that usual, daring Trubisky to make them pay. He couldn’t.
Their ineptitude bled over to the rest of the team: the defense, which was on the field for 42 plays against the Chargers, played 40 downs in the first half against the Eagles.
The Bears hadn’t won a game since Sept. 29 and were down 12-0 at halftime. The fate of their season depended on them getting a spark — even if that meant backup Chase Daniel merely running a professional-looking offense.
So when Trubisky ran out of the locker room and warmed up in his helmet while backup Daniel stayed in a baseball cap, it proved what the Bears have been saying publicly all year: they will not bench their starting quarterback. Not last Sunday or next Sunday or — now that the playoff pipe dream is all but officially dead — the doldrums of irrelevant December football.
After Sunday’s 22-14 loss, the 3-5 Bears and Trubisky are stuck with each other for the rest of the year.
General manager Ryan Pace’s big bet on Trubisky has failed this season. The Bears will be doubling down the rest of the year in a scramble to rediscover his value — even if, as presently constructed, they’ve got a four and the dealer a face card.
Coach Matt Nagy, of course, said he never considered benching Trubisky at halftime.
“No, I didn’t,” Nagy said. “I think for all of us, we knew that we could collectively be better.”
Trubisky was, in the sense that he more closely resembled a professional quarterback in the game’s final 30 minutes. But his final statistics — he went 10-of-21 for 125 yards and a devilish 66.6 passer rating — were eerily similar to a performance the Bears deemed unacceptable two weeks ago. Before garbage time against the Saints, Trubisky was 20-for-35 for 119 yards and a 63.9 passer rating.
The quarterback showed life in the second half, finding Taylor Gabriel for a 53-yard completion on the first drive that led to one of David Montgomery’s two rushing touchdowns. But he had help failing in the second half, too. Allen Robinson dropped a deep pass down the right sideline that, while left a bit short, hit him in both hands. Montgomery dropped a screen pass in the fourth quarter that seemed destined for 20 yards. Two plays later, the Bears punted and never ran another offensive play.
Trubisky seemed as exasperated after the loss as he’s been all year.
“Where the frustration is? It’s losing,” Trubisky said. “It’s not playing up to what we know we’re capable of. It’s making simple mistakes. It’s getting out-executed, getting out-played, when we know we’re capable of much more, when we know we have more inside of us, when we know we’re talented but we’re still coming up short.
“There’s a lot of really simple things that we did last year, that we do in practice, that on game-day we’re coming up short. That’s why you have this crappy feeling. That’s where the frustration comes. Losing sucks. You can tell we don’t like it.”
Robinson said he never wondered if the Bears would switch quarterbacks, while right tackle Bobby Massie wouldn’t blame Trubisky for the team’s struggles.
“If we lose a [bleeping] game,” he said, “everybody loses a [bleeping] game.”
Regardless of the result, Bears will keep giving Trubisky chances in the next bleeping game.
And the ones after that.