GREEN BAY – It’s not always easy for a young quarterback to lead, and demand respect from, his veteran teammates.
But former Packers guard Josh Sitton, now in Chicago, said Bears rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky is doing just that.
“He commands the huddle like a veteran,” Sitton said in a conference call with Green Bay media Wednesday. “A few weeks ago, we started to break the huddle early and he said, ‘Get the (expletive) back in the huddle, and don’t break it until I break it.’
“He cut and cussed at all of us linemen, and I was like, hell yeah, I respect the (expletive) out of that. He’s kind of taken over and trying to be the leader.”
Trubisky has started the last four games for the Bears after taking over for Mike Glennon following Green Bay’s three-touchdown win over Chicago back in Week 4.
The No. 2 overall pick in the draft will get his first crack at Green Bay on Sunday at Soldier Field. He has stopped the Bears from being “a turnover machine,” head coach John Fox said. They’ve gone 2-2 with Trubisky at the helm, with the two losses coming to division leaders Minnesota and New Orleans by one score apiece.
Trubisky has just four turnovers in his four starts (two interceptions, two fumbles lost) while Glennon had eight in his four starts (5 INTs, three fumbles), but that’s also due in part to the Bears’ reliance on their running game.
While no Chicago receiver has even 300 yards this season, second-year running back Jordan Howard has 662 rushing yards and four TDs at the midway point. The Bears even cranked out 50-plus running plays in an overtime victory at Baltimore back in Week 6.
“It’s been really fun,” Sitton said of the steady dose of run blocking, which wasn’t the norm during his eight years in Green Bay. “You get to dictate the game that way, dictate the line of scrimmage. It’s an exciting way to play football.”
It’s been the Bears’ bread and butter to this point, and Fox can appreciate Sitton’s sentiment.
“Ask any lineman I’ve ever been around, they’d rather go forward than go backwards,” Fox said. “That’s kind of the description of run blocking versus pass blocking. They enjoy it, the feed off of it.”
Howard is the workhorse, complemented by rookie speedster Tarik Cohen (228 yards rushing, 234 receiving, one TD each). Fox likens the approach with Howard to delivering “body blows in a heavyweight fight,” turning short runs early into longer ones late in games.
Coming off their bye week they may have some more wrinkles in the passing game for Trubisky, but there’s no reason to expect a huge deviation from the offense they’ve run the last month.
“We’ve got a couple decent backs back there, and we’re trying to break in a young quarterback,” Fox said. “So it’s something we’ve leaned on all season and particularly over the last four games.
“The turnovers have been the biggest thing. We’ve minimized that, and on the other side of the ball, over the last three games, we’ve taken it away eight times.”
Two of those takeaways were run back for touchdowns by rookie safety Eddie Jackson in a 17-3 home victory over Carolina in Week 7. The Bears have also forced a whopping 16 fumbles, recovering eight of them.
Chicago’s pass rush is led by Akiem Hicks and Leonard Floyd, who have combined for 12 of the Bears’ 23 total sacks. Signed to a big contract extension recently, Hicks has been particularly impressive as an interior rusher, racking up a team-high seven sacks.
“He’s just that rare guy that’s a giant, but he can move well,” Sitton said. “He’s kind of got all the tools. That’s what really makes him so valuable and so good. He doesn’t just power rush, doesn’t stick to one thing.”
The defense is the more polished side of the ball for the Bears, but Sitton believes the offense is coming along, following a steady learning curve.
He knows the unit has its leader. He isn’t planning to break the huddle early again, that’s for sure.
“There’s no doubt Trubisky’s got all the talent in the world,” Sitton said. “I’ll be excited to see what he’s going to do going forward.”