The term is “thin-skinned” and it’s applied mockingly to anyone who does not take criticism well. Hey, you might even be that person, you know, too proud, overly hyperacute. For some, being sensitive it’s a part of the human condition. For others, deflecting tough words and bad thoughts is as inherent as breathing.
It’s often said if sticks and stones can break your bones (in a metaphorical sense of course), you have no future in politics or athletics because as much as you want everyone to like you, it’s simply impossible.
There is no athlete in Chicago under more scrutiny than Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky. It comes with the territory when you’re the second overall pick in the 2017 Draft and your team took you instead of Christian McCaffrey, Pat Mahomes and Deshaun Watson.
That kind of status is always accompanied by a ton of pressure to succeed, if not in your first season, then certainly by your third when you’re expected to be up to speed with the intricacies of the position.
Trubisky is having a miserable season. He missed two games – Weeks 5 and 6 – with a shoulder injury. But even taking that into consideration, he’s in danger of finishing the season with less than 2,500 passing yards and fewer than double-digit touchdowns. How does that stack up? There are 16 other quarterbacks who have already thrown for over 2,000 yards. He has 1,217 passing yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions and is 31st in the league in QBR (34.8).
And after every tough game – he completed 10 passes for 125 yards against the Eagles last Sunday – he’s been hearing it from the fans and the local and national media. There’s been a lot of conjecture about how much better off the Bears would be if someone else was their quarterback.
This is all beginning to irritate Trubisky. And on Wednesday during a otherwise friendly sparring session with the media, he admitted that he’s come up with an interesting way to shut off the noise.
“Trying to get some of these TVs in the building turned off because you’ve got too many people talking on TV about us and what they think about us – what we should do, what we are and what we’re not,” Trubisky said. “But they don’t really know who we are, or what we’re capable of as people, or what we’re going through, or what we’re thinking. It’s just the outside viewers looking in.”
“So tunnel vision, ear muffs and just come to work every day and try to get better and get back to what we know we’re capable of doing.”
You can understand why Trubisky would be a little pissed off and very tired of seeing his name strapped onto the back of a pickup and dragged down the street. But shutting off televisions at Halas Hall is certainly not the best way to counteract it. What it does is imply the noise is getting to you. And that might be something his critics are happy to hear.
Making it all worse is the Bears are coming off a 12-4 season and a trip to the postseason in 2018, Matt Nagy’s first season as coach. They got off to a 3-1 start this season, but now have lost four straight and are in last place in the NFC North.
“It is totally different [this year in terms of expectations],” Nagy said Wednesday. “Because last year there aren’t those outside expectations. No one knew exactly what we were getting into [last season]. And then we made a little run. We ended up winning the division. And we put ourselves in a great opportunity to where now the expectations are meteoric.
“Now they’re just extremely high for a team that’s coming from where we were coming from. And that’s great. We’re not asking for anything different. We want that. If you don’t crave that pressure and you don’t crave that, then you shouldn’t be on this team.”
As much as the heat is on Trubisky, it’s now scorching on Nagy because its his job to develop his quarterback and all anyone seems to see is regression.
“We’re about solutions,” Nagy said. “And I think when you’re just staying put, you’re not trying to find answers and you’re OK with where you’re at right now, which no one is. We’re not.
“And I’m not just talking about Mitch or the quarterback position. Everywhere you look on offense, we know that we could be a lot better. So if we’re just sitting on our hands and we’re just trying to do the same thing over and over again after what we’ve done this year, I’m not so sure that’s the right solution or right answer. …(Trubisky’s) continued to stay positive. His teammates have continued to stay positive because they all know — and we all know — it’s not just one person. It’s not. So as long as you understand that and recognize that, it just makes it easier for everybody.”
The best thing for Trubisky right now is to focus on the positives and let the negativity slide off his back. He needs to keep the televisions turned on, maybe even turn up the volume and learn how to use it to his advantage.
Or he might just try to complete a pass once in awhile.