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Welcome to the Strange Mystery of Mitch Trubisky's Missing Motivation.
I just dropped in to see what condition his condition was in.
Sing it, Tevye, and narrate your strange story . . . "Mo-tee-vay-SHUN."
Trubisky Is going to be really good for the Bears in this pending fourth year of his diaspora. All his friends and allies say this is true because he is now really inspired to play quarterback for the Chicago Bears and really cares about his mental stability for that job.
Before? Not so much apparently. There is little comfort in colleagues' assurance he is working on mental stability. Or that now, he really wants to be a good quarterback.
First, it's like testimony about Jack Nicholson's "Randle McMurphy" from Nurse Ratched.
Second, when did Kyle Long become an expert on a position he never played? Odd offensive lineman, heal thyself.
As he said during whirlwind media interviews in support of his friend: "Heavy lies the head that wears the crown."
Actually, Shakespeare wrote in Henry IV: "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown."
Heavy, Uneasy. What's the diff? Plus, having a heavy head also is very hard for a football player.
Wackiness is afoot.
With every strange turn in Trubisky's days wearing the crown with his heavy or uneasy head, he announces that bad news is good news because it helps motivate him. He gives the Power of Positive Thinking a bad rap.
Yes, he needs regular transfusions of motivation. A heavy head needs transfusions.
He needs lots of help with motives and inspiration which come in three basic varieties. Says the dictionary:
• Extrinsic. Doing an activity to attain or avoid a separate outcome like when the Bears lose. Chances are, many of the things you do each day are extrinsically motivated.
• Intrinsic. An internal drive for success or sense of purpose, like playing NFL quarterback. (See listings under Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, or almost, well, anyone.)
• Family. Motivated by the desire to play for the Bears so to provide for your loved ones.
The Bears are happy if Trubisky is driven by all three, but they'd prefer if No. 2 on that list was No. 1 in his heart. Why is playing quarterback for the George Halas Bears not enough motivation in itself?
It's a rhetorical question. We don't know the answer in Trubisky's case.
He acknowledges this perception himself, which is odd self-reflection. Every day in every way, I'm getting better and better. And one day I'll grow up to be an almost-competent professional football player.
Evidence of budding nutjobbery?
Ten days ago, Trubisky held a Zoom interview with reporters in which he assessed his mental state after the Bears traded for likely pretender to the throne Nick Foles. The deal was not so much the Bears affirming trust in Foles as it was distrust of Trubisky.
As Mitch says in the headlined interview: "Chicago Bears' trade for Nick Foles angered him 'in a good way. I've been motivated ever since.'"
"Ever since," he said. Think of that as a before-and-after chronology.
On his Foles reaction: "It was kind of interesting to me, but that's the business that we're in." (Your correspondent observes: Yes, the business of winning football games)
Who is this guy? "I think I was kind of pissed off in a good way. I've been motivated ever since. I've been motivated since our season ended last year. I didn't feel like it went the way we wanted it to, and we left a lot out there." (Your correspondent: Actually, that was you who left a lot out there).
Next? "But I'm excited for this year. I think it's going to be a good competition. Foles has a crazy career as well, so it's cool to have him in our room talking ball. I know we're going to push each other. But I still feel like this is my team . . . " (Correspondent: The Bears are not a prize you won at the parish church bazaar).
Goals: " . . . just getting back on the field with my guys, showing everybody what I can still do and how hard I've been working this offseason to help the Bears win games this year." (Correspondent: Where's the Gipper? We need to win one for him).
On no career-validating fifth-year option for 2021: "It wasn't really a big surprise to me because I kind of felt like I had it coming. I put myself in their shoes - if I was looking at myself - I feel like I would have to go out and earn that fifth(-year) option. I feel like the way I played last year didn't . . . But, for me, my plan is just to go out there and earn my next contract, wherever that is. I want it to be here in Chicago. I'm going to play my heart and soul out for this team and give it everything I've got . . . " (Correspondent: Wherever that is? And how can a person spend too much time "looking at myself?")
And here it comes, Motivation: "But it wasn't a huge surprise. It was more fuel to the fire for me. It was just more motivation that I could have done more to get extended, but the reality is that it wasn't, so it's not a big deal. That's not what motivates me. What motivates me now is coming back off of last year and getting this team back to the playoffs, having a better record than 8-8 and playing to the potential that I know myself and the rest of my teammates can play at."
There is an odd, naive, plaintive tone to Trubisky's analysis, as if he's trying out for the high school lead in Guys and Dolls but is not sure he has the stage chops for it.
He is ether the Little Engine Who Could, or a carpenter who does not know which end of the hammer you hold.
MO-TEE-VAY-SHUN one more time: "I hope it just motivates my teammates the way that it has motivated me. I just feel like I'm in a good mental space right now. I'm very driven and motivated to do a lot more than I did last year . . . I just feel like I'm in a good mental space right now . . . " (Correspondent: Does your "good mental space" have padlocks on the door?)
Yes, there it is, in full flower. Are you sick of "motivation'" yet and Trubisky's varied attempts at finding it? Where's Waldo? Where's Trubisky's motivation?
Somehow a young NFL quarterback played at least two lackluster seasons in which he had more to give, but didn't because he wasn't suitably motivated. He wasn't "in a good mental space." Or perhaps he just wasn't good enough.
One of these days, Trubisky asserts, he'll learn how to read defenses and not miss open receivers. I promise. Scout's honor.
These happy forecasts all might be true - including the redemptive return for football from pandemic solitude - but forecasting accurately is not the only issue. We come not to bury Caesar but to understand him.
We do not understand him or his strange, ethereal motivations. Does anyone? Is there something profound in his head or merely a large, dark hole? He explains himself in very earnest hippy-dippy weatherman vernacular.
And clearly Bears fans don't know the answer, though they have settled into permanent, disgruntled funk about Trubisky. They cannot envision why playing quarterback for the Bears requires some mystical concoction of self-hypnosis and testosterone injections not demanded of other quarterbacks in the NFL.
I feel their puzzlement though fans' attitude, or mine, don't really count for much.
But other quarterbacks in other locales seem to need only skill and intelligence, and professional coaching. Yes, professionalism. You don't want a bypass cardiac surgeon to leave the operating room shaking his head, "I should have saved old Bob, but today I just wasn't motivated enough."
Trubisky requires what the equally unsolvable predecessor Jay Cutler also could have used - a rewired network of mental operational connections. Cutler was never more than 80 percent of competent as an average - sometimes nearly perfect and nearly as often a total wreck.
It wasn't his body. It was his head.
As a historical group, Bears quarterbacks apparently often have needed a permanent supine spot on Freud's couch. Sigmund works on their deep psychoses while they work on short hitch patterns. Sigmund says it's either a "mommy thing" or a "daddy thing."
Those of us with no technical psycho-training refer to it as a "head case nut job thing."
The Bears quarterback job is reserved only for the deeply psychologically troubled. Or the very marginally talented.
We know this to be true now because Trubisky's fragile state of ego development is the dominant source of current discussion.
The leader of the discussion is Trubisky himself. Who announces to the world they are head cases? Correction. Recovering head cases.
But maybe everyone - including Trubisky - is overthinking the question.
This is a long-refined Bears personality trait - study a problem from every angle and then produce the absolute worst answer. Hiring Marc Trestman as coach reflected that method of problem solving.
Hiring quarterbacks is likewise not the Bears' organizational strength.
Sid Luckman is the only great quarterback in the franchise's history and has been dead - DEAD! - for 22 years. He was born in 1916. The modern zipper was patented a year later.
The Broncos, but mostly the Bears, needed more than a decade and $120 million to finally understand Jay Cutler's fundamental flaw. Never have one player's 23,443 passing yards and 154 touchdowns been as unsatisfying.
But his problem was obvious. He just wasn't good enough.
At least Cutler - plus Grossman, Harbaugh, Orton, the "wrong" Griese, Kramer, Krieg and all the other nondescript occupiers of that job - did not bore us with existential rumination about their state of mental focus.
They just weren't very good.
Maybe that, too, is what's wrong with Mitch Trubisky.
Recently by David Rutter:
David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, and more importantly, the former author of the Beachwood's late, great "The Week In WTF" column. You can also check him out at his Theeditor50's blog. He welcomes your comments.
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