Bears finally unlock Mitchell Trubisky's rushing prowess

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The most confusing offensive development in Year 2 under Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy has been the reluctance to use quarterback Mitchell Trubisky's skills as a runner.

Trubisky entered Week 14 with 80 total rushing yards on 26 attempts (3.1 yards per carry).

That’s a steep decline from the 2018 season, when Trubisky ran 68 times for 421 yards (6.2 yards per carry) and three touchdowns. Even his rookie year in 2017, Trubisky showed greater willingness to run, with 248 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 41 carries. That earned him a league-wide reputation as a multipurpose threat who can make big plays with his feet.

Against the Dallas Cowboys, Trubisky and Nagy finally cut loose, with the QB gaining 63 rushing yards on 10 attempts, including a 23-yard touchdown run, the longest touchdown run by a Bear at Soldier Field since a Matt Forte rush in 2009, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

“Schematically, there might have been a few things that we changed,” Nagy said. “... So being able to change the line of scrimmage, have some misdirection in different spots, kind of keep them guessing and then not be one-dimensional. We were able to change the line of scrimmage, create some movement-type throws, play-actions here or there."

Nagy called his best game of the year, balancing 34 rushing attempts and 31 passing attempts. Trubisky finished the game 23-of-31 passing for 244 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

“It felt good,” Trubisky said. “The offensive line did a great job all night creating holes for David Montgomery, myself and Tarik Cohen. Just taking what the defense gave us. We knew they were going to do that. There were some openings. I did my job of pulling the ball down and running. I thought I ran smart."

Trubisky joined Drew Brees and Josh Allen as the only quarterbacks to record multiple games with three-plus touchdown passes and one rushing touchdown in the past two seasons, per ESPN Stats & Information.

“I can’t tell you what I specifically said [to Mitch after his touchdown run], but I was just telling him that, ‘You’re doin’ it, man. You’re running stuff. You’re proving the doubters wrong,'” Bears wide receiver Anthony Miller said. “... We been rocking with him this whole time, and finally everything is clicking. ...

“He’s just using his God-given ability. He’s one of the best running quarterbacks in the league, in my opinion. He’s a slippery guy. When he sees the opportunity to run, he takes full advantage of it. It keeps the defense on their toes. They know that they have to watch Mitch at all times. He’s a playmaker."

Still, why hasn't Trubisky been doing that all season?

Nagy dismissed the theory that Trubisky’s failure to run was directly correlated to the quarterback’s shoulder and hip injuries. Trubisky still has a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder that eventually needs repair, and he suffered a hip pointer injury in Los Angeles several weeks ago that has caused him obvious discomfort.

“It’s a valid question,” Nagy said. “... I think it’s more of us just collectively, just whatever we were calling, whatever was working at that time, where we were offensive-line-wise, changing the line of scrimmage, in the pass game."

Does the game against the Cowboys mean Trubisky will be running more in the final three weeks of the regular season?

“When you have a defensive line [like the Cowboys] that plays a lot of games on the front line, that stunts, you’re going to get more of that [running from the quarterback],” Nagy said. “Now, there are pros and cons to that. Trust me, they’re not the only team that does that. But [Trubisky] understands that his legs are a weapon. We don’t want him to become a running back. We want him to be a quarterback that uses his legs, and I thought Thursday night was a great example of that combination.”