Mitchell Trubisky exited Chicago after four controversial seasons by throwing a touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham.
Appropriately, Graham had to turn around and leap to haul it in with one hand. Trubisky never was known for his downfield passing accuracy, although in that playoff game he did spot the best bomb he ever threw and it went right into Javon Wims' hands in the end zone on a flea flicker. Then it was dropped.
It was typical of Trubisky's fortunes in Chicago. Make a comeback in the fourth quarter of a playoff game, and Nick Foles rallies his team. Make another late drive into range to win it, and the kicker double-doinks. Trubisky comes out a loser.
Now Trubisky returns for Saturday's preseason game at Soldier Field against the Bears, and at some point it will be a matchup of the old Bears quarterback against the future of the Bears, Justin Fields.
Trubisky told Buffalo area reporters it will be "... weird going back there. But I'm looking forward to it."
Pressure-Packed Years for Mitchell Trubisky
Trubisky seemed reluctant to openly talk about Chicago but did make a number of veiled comments about his experience with the Bears, mostly negative.
"I mean I really don't like to dwell on the past and I don't want to go too far into it but the point of this game is to win; stats are stats, numbers are numbers," Trubisky told Buffalo media when asked about his four years in Chicago. "What I was trying to do is go out there and win games, so I feel like now if given the opportunity I could go out there and help my team win.
"I know my role here and I'm just trying to get better. But the past is past, I'm not really trying to dwell on it. And people are always gonna have something to say, but I'm just happy to be where I am right now."
Trubisky acknowledged all the pressure he was under as Ryan Pace's second pick in the 2017 draft.
"There definitely is when you're drafted No. 2 overall and, I mean, I only started one year at North Carolina but I played in a lot of games and you're playing in one of the biggest markets in the country, and it's a tough football town," Trubisky said. "I went out there and won games, I continued to get better, and I'm just happy to be right where I am now.
"People are always gonna have something to say about your journey and what everything goes to, but not everybody could have done what I did, and I'm proud of where I'm at now, and I'm just ready to continue to embrace the process and embrace this team and be a part of a great organization. I believe I am where I am now for a reason and you just got to believe that and continue to move forward and get better."
Trubisky is the backup to Josh Allen on a very good football team, one viewed by many as a Super Bowl challenger.
More Fun for Mitchell
He said the game is more enjoyable for him now.
"Definitely. The game feels a lot more pure than it did the last couple years," Trubisky said. "It feels a lot more fun and I'm getting that love for the game back. Just being here over the summer and OTAs and throughout training camp, I just feel a lot more free playing the game, playing loose and slinging it around.
"I'm having a lot of fun doing it, I'm just happy here."
When the Bears didn't pick up Trubisky's third-year option his fate seemed to be sealed.
"I kind of saw it coming, just the way I was progressing," Trubisky said. "Year 2 was really good and then Year 3 and 4, not as good. I was dealing with some injuries and some other things going on there, but like I said it was disappointing but it wasn't a surprise."
He suffered a shoulder injury in both 2018 and 2019 but missed little playing time.
"Throughout the process, you can kind of see that (the Bears) were just continuously believing in me less and less and that's just kind of how that process went," he said.
The experience in Chicago taught Trubisky some lessons, and seemed to have made it easier for him to take his veiled shots at the Bears.
"Everything happens for a reason and I’m just happy to be in a great place now where I'm surrounded by great people, great coaches, great teammates and be on a team where you're wanted and be part of a great team," Trubisky said.
Obviously he felt he wasn't surrounded by such things in the past. There would be no other point to saying it.
Being a Backup
Trubisky never wanted to be a backup. He found there was no team willing to make him a starter. He accepted a $2.5 million deal, including a $500,000 bonus. Out of his $2 million in salary, $1.5 million of it is guaranteed.
"At first I wanted to go to a spot where I would be able to compete for a starting position but the right situation didn't come up," Trubisky said. "And that opportunity really wasn't there, so I looked at the next best thing where I could continue to develop and continue to progress and become a better player and a person and fell into this organization and I loved it ever since coming to Buffalo.
"Just working with this coaching staff, being with the caliber type of players that we got here, the people, and using all the resources and it's just really nice to be a part of a great team and be somewhere where people want you here, and they care about how you're progressing as a person, as a player. It was an interesting process but I feel like I'm right where I'm supposed to be right now and I'm enjoying being here."
It apparently isn't a long-term home for him. GM Brandon Beane only signed him to a one-year deal and said it would be only a one-year thing. Trubisky is taking this as a positive.
"I mean, you never know what's going to happen, but I think hearing him say that gives me confidence because he believes I am a starting caliber quarterback and I believe that as well," Trubisky said. "So you never know what's going to happen, but I'm here to stay in the moment, just give everything I can to this team and my teammates. Be the best teammate and player I can be and continue to progress in honing my skills so I feel like I'm in the right place and we'll get to that (future) next year. And right now I'm just lucky to be a part of this team and I'm looking forward to a really great year with the Bills."
Trubisky called playing backup a personal adjustment but it could be one he needs to get used to because every year new quarterbacks come into the league and no one seems to have patience to develop a player who failed the first shot they had.
'I think it was humbling at first because as a competitor you just want to be given the opportunity to show that I can still play as a starter level in this league," he said. "I felt that even through things that happened in my last year, I still showed I can play at that level and win games as a starter. And I did win games my last year in Chicago.
"It was a humbling process, just not being given the opportunity to even compete—it was just a process that I had to go through. Once I figured out that I can come to a great place, continue to work on my skills and get better as a player, this is just a perfect spot for me to come to be part of a great team, learn from great coaches and continue to progress my game."
Home Sweet Home?
It doesn't seem like Trubisky liked Chicago area traffic.
He called Buffalo "awesome."
"I'm from Cleveland, Ohio so it kind of feels very similar to back home for me," Trubisky said. "I like that it's only a 10-minute drive from my house to the facility every morning, no traffic, easy to get to.
"Great food in the area and the people are really nice. Everyone's been very welcoming, my teammates, my coaches, and all the neighbors and everyone around here, they've been very nice and welcoming. So it feels like home."
At least it's home for this year.