Dare a football city to dream but it would've been nearly impossible for Mitchell Trubisky to live up to the immense hype leading up to his Chicago Bears' debut on Monday night.
The weight of years of franchise frustration and angst mixed with a healthy dose of optimism to celebrate a Merry MitchMas. A standing ovation as he walked out onto the field in the Church of Mitchell. Rally towels flying in the air as if this October regular season game was a contentious playoff battle. All of this pressure should've been enough to weigh down Trubisky. Hope occasionally creates insurmountable expectations.
Despite a late game-sealing interception to Vikings safety Harrison Smith in a 20-17 loss, somehow it didn't. Despite the Bears' best attempts to derail any Trubisky flash with rampant penalties, it didn't.
If anything, Trubisky's play on Monday night in such an atmosphere and subsequent response to falling short gave all a perspective that this new Bears' quarterback adventure might finally be different. This 23-year-old from Mentor, Ohio might finally be the one. Oddly enough, while there were memories galore, it felt like just another game for Trubisky.
“It was fun. The crowd was electric. I have to thank them for coming out and being loud and really supporting us. It is just a start, so take the good with the good, the bad with the bad and roll from there and know it is the first one and so it can only get better," said Trubisky.
That sounds like a quarterback confident and un-phased by what's to come. That sounds like a quarterback already recognizing what he did wrong and how he can correct it, eagerly awaiting his next opportunity. Exactly what you want to hear.
The Bears didn't make it easy for Trubisky on Monday, though. From various holding calls - such as egregious marks by Markus Wheaton and Cody Whitehair wiping out a touchdown by Jordan Howard and big gain by Tre McBride respectively - this wasn't a team that looked like it was prepared to boost it's hopeful franchise quarterback. For as much as Trubisky flashed his tremendous accuracy and athleticism on the move at a solid rate, this team wasn't wholly prepared. This was a team still getting acclimated to someone new holding the reins.
And in retrospect, that's what was most impressive about Trubisky in reaction. He'd tell you himself he didn't play well. 12 for 25 with 128 yards, a touchdown, and that interception to Smith is hardly much to write home about. But he didn't play awfully either, and he refused to use teammates as an excuse or throw anyone under the bus. A kid taking charge of his team and taking responsibility for all shortcomings from the get-go.
A refreshing Bears concept.
“I feel like that’s what a quarterback is supposed to do. That’s what I’ve been doing my whole life – you just take it. Especially when you make a play like that, the interception. You just feel like it’s your fault, that you could have done more to help our team win. I just felt like it was on me ... I appreciate them having faith in me and having my back, but yeah, I feel like it’s on me," said Trubisky of accepting the blame.
Showcasing such maturity at a young age isn't something simple to grasp for a lot of young players. It can take time to win over a locker room and get used to the intricacies of interactions with established veterans and grown men. Somehow, Trubisky already gets it. Somehow, the path to becoming a franchise quarterback is being paved quickly as we speak as he takes the heat.
The Bears and John Fox can see these qualities lying underneath with their pupil too.
"He's got what it takes. There's no doubt in my mind," said Fox of Trubisky in the post game. It'd be difficult for anyone not to be impressed.
At a disappointing 1-4, any Bears' 2017 playoff hopes are assuredly dead in the water. This roster and franchise as a whole isn't good enough to compete for a vaunted spot in January yet. And it doesn't matter because that's not what the rest of the season will be about. It's not what it was ever going to be about.
The remainder of this Bears' season will consist of the crucial first steps on the Trubisky development track. It'll be all about the flashes of brilliance to go with the mind-numbing mistakes molded into one that we've already seen. The trials of a rookie quarterback attempting to slowly change the history of a franchise as he defines his own career. A young player inspiring hope in a dormant and irrelevant franchise.
If Monday night was any indication, Trubisky is well on his way to becoming the quarterback this franchise has been seeking for decades.
Most importantly, that mentioned pressure on Trubisky created by the optimism of a starving-for-success fan base is doing something else too.
That pressure's creating a diamond.
Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for the Rock River Times and is an editor for Windy City Gridiron. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.