The Chicago Bears are a team on the rise with a first-year head coach and second-year quarterback leading the way. Indeed, Head Coach Matt Nagy has already helped quarterback Mitch Trubisky shake off some issues that plagued him during his rookie season, but there’s still a climb to be made if the Bears are going to make the playoffs with Trubisky under center.
Here are some highlights from Nagy’s latest press conference, as well as some additional comments and commentary from yours truly.
Growth and Confidence in Mitch Trubisky are on the Rise
While there has been a focus on Trubisky taking the second-year leap from his rookie season, let’s not understate the importance of making in-season gains. When asked about his level of confidence in Trubisky, Nagy explained that it has grown as the second-year quarterback has developed. And with it, Nagy has grown as a play-caller and the offense has improved as a result.
“If you go back to Week 1 versus Green Bay, I was trying to figure out myself what I could call – not just for Mitch, but for our offense. And I think that’s what sometimes gets lost in translation. A lot of it gets put on Mitch, but our whole offense offense is learning what we’re doing. Coaches, myself, players, we’re all collaborating together and discussing in team meetings what plays we like. And you get a feel for it. Sometimes they don’t voice too much, they’ll just do what you say. But we’re always looking for feedback from them and right now we’re starting to feel comfortable with a select group of plays and how it fits.”
Beyond Nagy’s admission that he has changed as a play-caller since his head coaching debut in Green Bay, what should stand out most here is how he gets input from assistants and players to get a feel for which plays are working and which ones should be junked. Nagy referring to it as a collaborative effort is a stark contrast to what you would expect from an NFL head coach. There’s no “my way or the highway” stuff going on at Halas Hall right now and that seems like a good thing.
So What’s Next for Mitch?
The biggest takeaway from Nagy’s press conference on Wednesday was his explanation on how he successfully re-programmed Trubisky by flushing out old habits he picked up during his rookie season. That’s all fine and dandy, but what’s next on the to-do list? Nagy explained what Trubisky needs to do to take it to the next level.
“Now, it’s recognizing defenses. Understanding how to fit what we do offensively into what he sees within three seconds of the snap and he’s exceeded my expectations with that. Doesn’t surprise me because I know who he is and how hard he works.”
The idea of applying what you’ve learned in practice and film sessions to the playing field sounds easy enough. But to do it within three seconds of the snap, make the right decision, stay true to your mechanics, and make a strong, accurate throw is something totally different. Man, quarterbacking is hard work.
Playing the Patriots Probably Won’t Help the Bears Prepare for the Lions
Before the Bears and Patriots hooked up earlier in the year, there was some buzz about how New England had something of an edge in figuring out how to stop Nagy’s offense because they had just played the Chiefs, whose playbook is a base for what the Bears run. Now, the Bears are set to play the Lions, whose defense is similar to that of what the Patriots throw out. Having played the Patriots should help the Bears a bit, right?
“It doesn’t necessarily help. Now it’s the same family of defense, but you know Matt (Patricia) is going to put his spin on what he does and you can see some of that off personnel and then what he likes. I think he does a great job of disguising things. Maybe it helps with a couple routes here and there, but overall schematically, not a whole lot.”
OK, so much for that potential edge.
On What the Bears Missed in Adam Shaheen
It’s been a long time coming for the second-year tight end, who has been off the field since mid-August while recovering from a foot/ankle injury. Shaheen returned to practice on Wednesday, though how soon he’ll return to the playing field is still up in the air. It stinks Shaheen didn’t get a full preseason to further his connection with Trubisky because it sounds as if he was making progress and still had a ways to go.
“I thought that he was coming in, at that point in time, he was still digesting the playbook,” Nagy said about Shaheen. “But you saw some things he was doing. He was getting the ball a little bit. He’s a nice-sized guy, so one-on-one battles he does well with. But he was also learning how to play tight end how to run routes in this offense, so it was tough to see him go down the way he did because I thought he was one of those guys who was progressing fast.”
The arrow was pointing up for Shaheen, who was getting snaps in the offense outside of the red zone as the team’s “Y” tight end. And with Dion Sims dealing with a concussion and Ben Braunecker just coming back from one of his own, the Bears could use Shaheen’s return as soon as possible.