The Chicago Bears’ playoffs hopes ride contingent on beating the Green Bay Packers. It’s the type of big-game atmosphere Ralphie’s dad would be reading about in A Christmas Story before disappearing to fix the furnace amid a torrent of smoke and profanity. And don’t look now, but Mitch Trubisky is playing the type of competent ball that makes the franchise’s No. 2 overall pick look merely like a seeing-eye single and not a complete whiff.
Hope springs eternal for better futures when the calendar year sees its reflection turn ancient in the mirror. Trubisky, preciously on a razor’s wire and one-way ticket to irrelevance in his online cart, can reshape his entire legacy over the next month. He can erase some of the growing pains and cause fans to put the blade away before the wounds will scar.
Trubisky’s recent resurgence has been aided by lackluster defensive resistance. Neither the Lions, Texans, Vikings or Jaguars seemed particularly engaged or capable of stopping even second-rate talent. Yet...
Over the past five contests, Trubisky has 1,326 yards from scrimmage with arms and legs, 11 touchdowns, and sparkling ratings from all the assorted raters. If he were to somehow improve upon this on Sunday against the Packers, he’ll have led Chicago back to the playoffs, even if it was the path less traveled.
Win two more games on the road after that and he’s a starting quarterback in a conference championship game. Laugh if you wish. Be reasonable if you wish. Postseason road victories don’t exactly grow on trees and this quarterback has proven time and time again that he’s not a professional arborist.
Then again, what if he goes and does it? What if Trubisky goes on a run here and goes where no Bears signalcaller has gone since Rex Grossman? Will that not change everything for him?
Long-term, of course, that could the worst thing for the Bears. One can envision an event horizon in which a misguided $95 million contract ages like fine cottage cheese.
Since we’re just having fun here as consenting adults, allow me to wedge the elephant in the room. What if, uh, Trubisky wins five in a row while in some sort of Fugue state? And then just keeps playing like a Top-10 quarterback for the rest of his career, winning at a consistent clip?
The reason for all this is to point out that the city’s sports epicenter is still up for grabs. Trubisky has as good a chance as any athlete to become the toast of the town. The Q Score belt-holder. A fan favorite in a town that reveres its stars, yes, but values its winners more than anything.
The Cubs are in the early stages of a sell-off. The Bulls still appear rudderless. The few remaining champions on the Blackhawks are looking less and less important. Save for the White Sox, every team in town is flirting with the Mendoza Line.
The stars are certainly aligning to present the opportunity. And, look, I’ll be as shocked as the next person if Mitch were able to pull this off. Raise your hand, though, if you thought he’d ever have a slim chance at taking they path again.
If not Trubisky, then any competent Bears quarterback stands the same chance. The same opportunity to become the biggest star in town simply by being halfway decent.
What a strange present that looks oddly normal next to that potential bizarre future.