CHICAGO — Mitch Trubisky reflexively chuckled at the question. In this withered Bears season, there's still a place for gallows humor.
Not that it was silly for a reporter to ask the quarterback what positives he'd like to take from the 19-14 victory over the Giants on Sunday at Soldier Field. It's just that the list was shorter, simpler and lamer than a win should yield.
"We scored more points than them," Trubisky deadpanned.
That was all. And even that statement, like almost every sporadic uptick this season, was offset by a big, fat "but."
"But it's not good enough," Trubisky said. "We've got to be better in the red zone. We've got to be better on third down. We've got to be better as an offense ... and quit making mistakes."
That's the aftertaste of the Bears' fifth win. Straight Malort.
The Bears outlasted the 2-9 Giants, thanks in no small part to two missed second-quarter field goals by the visitors. Once again, the Bears had to overcome a dreadful start offensively, which they did with a 16-point third-quarter outburst.
Still, the Bears' 19 points were the second-fewest scored against the Giants this season. Trubisky threw for a touchdown and ran for another but also threw two interceptions.
"Happy we won," Trubisky said, "but it's not good enough. Not nearly good enough from this offense, from myself. We can't have the turnovers."
That familiar refrain begs the questions: What is left to learn about Trubisky, coach Matt Nagy and the underperforming offense in five more games as the Bears play out the string?
As the Bears continue to measure Trubisky's growth, sometimes in millimeters, what could possibly mitigate their need to create a quarterback competition in 2020?
Sunday's game against the NFL's 25th-ranked pass defense at least appeared to be an opportunity to sharpen the offense's processes, generate some confidence for Trubisky and head into the Thanksgiving game against the Lions on the front foot.
Instead, the offense was inconsistent, sloppy and, as usual, underwhelming.
The Bears turned the ball over twice, including one Trubisky interception in the end zone. They had five empty possessions before they finally scored.
They averaged 2.5 yards per carry. They burned several timeouts because of pre-snap misalignment or miscommunication. They scored one touchdown in four red-zone trips.
There were familiar miscues. Center Cody Whitehair's hands-to-the-face penalty negated a season-long 60-yard completion to receiver Allen Robinson. Wide-open tight end Ben Braunecker dropped a potential 29-yard touchdown.
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"None of that's intentional; it's not because of effort," Nagy said. "So you've got to regroup. We want to be a little bit better in the red zone. And then the other part of it, too, which is obvious, is just the communication part of getting in and out (of the huddle). We had to use those two timeouts for two different reasons. But we know that. We want to get better at it."
Of course, after 11 games, it's too late. The Bears have been at this long enough that they should be better by now. Repeated stumbles because of personnel groupings and alignments — processes the Bears fully control — are the hallmark of a bad team.
To that end, there were few revelations Sunday.
Trubisky's first interception followed Braunecker's drop, leaving the Bears with no points when they had multiple plays to score.
The pick resulted from a miscommunication with Robinson, specifically how Robinson tried to attack middle linebacker Alec Ogletree on a route over the middle on third-and-9 from the Giants' 14-yard line.
"I thought he was going to do one thing; he was seeing something else," Trubisky said.
Trubisky's second interception was a deep ball intended for Javon Wims on a post. Despite a clean pocket, the ball was 5 yards underthrown.
"It can't happen," Trubisky said. "I thought I could put a little more on it (but) couldn't. Bad decision, forced."
Trubisky was hard on himself after the game, speaking to media in a tone normally reserved for defeat. Through the sting of familiar miscues, though, there were positive moments for him to see if he cared to.
He threw for a season-high 278 yards, completing 25 of 41 passes. Nagy made a concerted effort to move the passing point and get Trubisky outside the pocket.
Trubisky had five completions of at least 19 yards, exploiting the Giants' disastrous secondary and demonstrating a downfield element that has been too rare this season.
His 32-yard touchdown to Robinson down the left seam was well read. When the safety in the middle of the field defended tight end Jesper Horsted on a relatively shallow in-cutting route, Robinson was open deep.
Later in the third quarter, Trubisky followed running back David Montgomery's block into the end zone on a designed run. He finished through contact, showing no signs of the right hip pointer that contributed to Nagy pulling him from last Sunday's loss to the Rams.
Trubisky said he wanted that play called because the Giants were playing zone coverage to protect the end zone from close range and committing few defenders to stopping the run.
"When your number is called, you've just got to do your job," Trubisky said. "Everyone else did theirs, so I felt like I needed to finish it off."
As Nagy weighed the offense's mistakes against the victory, he made a point to credit Trubisky for "running the show."
"We have different personnel (groups) that come in and out _ it's not easy," he said. "So we want to try to help him out as much as we can. But probably a lot of that stuff y'all don't see. But he did a really good job with that."
Trubisky can add that to his list of positives. Now he has two.
Rich Campbell is a sports columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Follow him on Twitter: @Rich_Campbell