Nagy, Trubisky, and Hiestand Explain What Went into the Whitehair-Daniels Swap (2.0)

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Nagy, Trubisky, and Hiestand Explain What Went into the Whitehair-Daniels Swap (2.0)

Chicago Bears

Moving James Daniels to center and Cody Whitehair to left guard was a sensible idea when the Bears started putting it in motion during the offseason.

Daniels was a quality contributor as a guard out of the gates during his rookie season just months after being selected in the second round. But Daniels was a center by trade (and a darn good one while developing at Iowa at that), so sliding him back to his original position wasn’t some off-the-wall idea. The same could be said about Whitehair’s shift from center to guard. Because while Whitehair was a Pro Bowl center last season, he was originally drafted to play guard after being selected in the second round in 2016.

But the Bears did something a bit jarring on Sunday in an attempt to bring some life to the offense — they moved Whitehair and Daniels back to the positions they played last year.

That is an interesting decision in and of itself, but the multi-layered reasoning really piques my interest.

Offensive Line Coach Harry Hiestand appears to have had a hand in the move:

I imagine there’s some value in having experience in the middle of the offensive line, which is where Whitehair fits into this mix. Whitehair flanked by a second-year player at left guard and a right guard who is in just his second year as an offensive lineman. It feels as if putting two relatively inexperienced interior linemen together is asking for trouble. This isn’t meant to be a knock on Daniels or Rashaad Coward, but there’s something sensible and self-evident about the man in the middle providing the experienced and steady hand.

Head Coach Matt Nagy also chimed in during his Monday press conference:

Experience is valuable, but let’s not overlook the importance of communication.

Since Mitch Trubisky started as a rookie, Whitehair has been responsible for calling out pre-snap blocking assignments and adjustments. A more experienced quarterback would handle some of those responsibilities, but Trubisky clearly isn’t there yet. And since Whitehair has a knack for it, why not go with something that works? None of this is to say Daniels can’t do it or pick it up over time. But because he has struggled with it to this point, it was probably better to switch it up and go with something that is known to have worked instead of keeping on a path that isn’t working at the moment.

And at sone point down the line, Trubisky’s comfort had to play a factor in it.

Here is what Trubisky had to say about Whitehair when asked about the move after the game, via the Bears’ official website: “He’s really good with communicating, helping those young guys to the sides of him now, and we have really good chemistry, me and him. So, he gives me confidence, and we’ve just got to keep feeding off that.”

A couple of things of note from the quote above: For starters, Trubisky (like Hiestand) notes the importance of Whitehair’s presence as an aid to the young guards on his left and right. Trubisky also drives home the point that Whitehair has the communication stuff on lock. However, Trubisky’s words give me pause. Trubisky champions the chemistry he has with Whitehair and the confidence he gets from working with him. Does that mean he didn’t have chemistry with Daniels? Did he have an issue with confidence because Daniels was at center? He sure seemed on board with the move in the offseason. Here’s hoping Trubisky had some kind words for Daniels behind the scenes, because I do not believe changing positions in-season is something that is easy to come to grips with.

All things considered, this move looks like it was made with everyone on the same page — even if it wasn’t perfect right away (because mid-season position swaps rarely are that).



Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.