Chicago Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy discussed a variety of topics after Wednesday’s practice at the conclusion of OTAs. The first-year head coach fielded questions about rookie playing time, the offense’s growth, position flexibility, and more.
You can watch Nagy’s full press conference here, or, you can check out the highlights, alongside some thoughts of my own, below. Or both.
Vic Fangio’s Defense is Challenging Mitch Trubisky
The Bears’ second-year quarterback has a lot on his plate. Not only is he learning the ins and outs of his new offense, he also has to do so while going up against Vic Fangio’s defense. Not an easy task for any signal caller. Yes, Trubisky has to grow into the offense … but how he reacts to defenses will ultimately decide the fate of the 2018 Bears. That’s why I love the idea of Trubisky practicing against a defense like the one Fangio runs. The different looks that a unit that is experienced and has worked together should help Trubisky develop during these training sessions.
“He’s starting to see some coverages now. Coach Fangio and his guys are doing a good job of mixing different coverages and disguising different looks,” Nagy said. “So for Mitchell to be able to see those looks on tape, he’s building his own library now within this offense. We don’t have to watch Kansas City’s offense any more to see how this stuff is going. We’re building our library now, he’s able to see how it works against our defense right now and then try not to make those mistakes and make the correct adjustments.”
Offensive Success Is NOT Going to Happen Overnight
This was a pretty solid point Nagy made and it’s worth driving it home. The Bears figure to be better in 2018 than they were last season because they’ll be running a more progressive offense that will look to make moves rather than just avoiding mistakes (and the skilled personnel on the field should be more talented). But while Trubisky and the rest of his teammates are soaking in everything, it would be unfair to expect a drastic turnaround right off the bat.
“In Kansas City, it took us five years to get to that point that we got to. That did not happen overnight. That developed over time,” Nagy said. “We’re kind of at a pace right now where we have to at times pull back and say to yourself, ‘OK, just remember now, we’re months into this thing, not years.’ So the more reps we can get in practice, whether it’s a walk through, splits, alignment shifts, motions, the more they can see themselves doing it, that’s what we want.” (Michael: While I agree wholeheartedly with Nagy’s point, I can see how the “five years” comment might rub some Bears fans the wrong way. You and the offense might be months into it, but we, as Bears fans, have been doing it for a much longer time).
Taking Pride in the Offense
Alright, so we’re a few months into this thing. How does Nagy feel about where the group is at this point of the process?
“I just told them this morning in our offensive meeting that I’m proud of them for taking this as serious as they are and not getting upset or frustrated at the mistakes they may make the first time. That’s the biggest thing we look for,” Nagy said. “The volume right now has grown immensely in the play book we’ve given them. We’ll eventually pull back, see what works, what doesn’t work, and then fit into our guys by personnel and formation.”
Roquan Smith, James Daniels Take Second-String Snaps
Neither of the Bears’ first two draft picks are taking first-string snaps right now. That isn’t much of a concern though, as both rookies are still in the infant stages of their professional careers and still have a lot to learn between now and the time meaningful football gets played. Moreover, Nagy re-iterated that both players will need to earn their starting roles: “It’s so hard to just come into a system and just be the guy right away,” Nagy said. “You’ve got to earn it. I think they understand that, I know they do. I’m sure, in the end, they’re going to respect it, too.” I’ll add a subtle: “earn it,” too.
There is no problem with slow-playing each player’s development, because both figure to be starters when it matters. Now, things will be different if we get through training camp and neither is in a position to take a starting role. But that’s a bridge we’ll cross when we come to it.
Good Vibes About the Offensive Line
I’m glad we’re not the only ones who are feeling good about the offensive line right now. I suppose having a new position coach in Harry Hiestand directing traffic, you’re going to feel good.
“There’s a lot of depth and a lot of competition. So when you have that, Harry’s going to do a great job of mixing guys in and out. To have position flexibility in this league is so important. So when you have a guard that can play center or a tackle that can play both sides, it’s too valuable to not have that.”
Position flexibility is good, but Nagy added that the team is trying to strike a balance at this stage of the offseason. “We’re trying not to have guys play too many different positions so they can get to communication process down the line of scrimmage.”
Some Love for His Offensive Coaches
When discussing what offensive assistants like QBs Coach Dave Ragone and OC Mark Helfrich bring to the table, Nagy focused on their experience coaching quarterbacks. Of course, that group includes back-up signal callers Chase Daniel and Tyler Bray.
“They’re quarterback guys that really understand that position and have a history with it, whether it’s playing or coaching it. And then we all talk football all the time, so I’m able to be out there and oversee it. But the trust factor of knowing what these quarterbacks are getting, then you have Chase and Tyler back there with Mitch, it is a unity between all of them. So for us to have that, it’s real comforting.”