LAKE FOREST, Ill. – In a sign of progress, Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky no longer watches film of the Kansas City Chiefs in order to comprehend the offensive scheme head coach Matt Nagy brought with him to Chicago.
“Mitch is building his own library right now within the offense,” Nagy said on Wednesday.
Trubisky’s library, however, is only partially built.
The Bears – and by extension, Trubisky – are a work in progress offensively, primarily because for the majority of the team, Nagy’s system is a drastic departure from what they ran in the woebegone John Fox era.
Trubisky, who started the final 12 games last year as a rookie (2,193 passing yards, seven touchdowns, seven interceptions), quarterbacked an offense that finished dead last in passing, 30th in total offense and 29th in points.
“[Mitch needs] experience [above all else],” Bears offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich said. “I think it’s 100 percent experience and just reps, and that’s kind of what I was talking about was knowing why something happened. As a quarterback, he might take the perfect drop and be looking at the right guy in his progression, and that guy runs the wrong route or the left guard busts or something. The defense does something different or wrong, even. And trusting that is just a matter of putting rep on top of rep on top of rep and being confident.”
The Bears made a concerted effort to improve the talent pool on offense – to better support Trubisky -- in free agency (Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, Taylor Gabriel) and via the draft (Anthony Miller, James Daniels), but it takes time for so many new pieces to come together. Plus, Robinson, who’s projected to be the club’s No. 1 wideout, is still recovering from a torn ACL.
Trubisky also has the unenviable task of going up against defenders who are entering Year 4 under venerable coordinator Vic Fangio. The Bears are expected to return at least eight starters in 2018, including all four members of their secondary.
“Mitch is starting to see some coverages now,” Nagy said. “Coach Fangio and his guys are doing a good job of mixing different coverages and disguising different looks.
“In Kansas City it took us five years to get to that point that we got to. That did not happen overnight. That develops in time. We’re kind of at a pace right now where we have to at times pull back and say to yourself we’re months into this thing, not years.”
Case in point: The offense had its share of struggles during Wednesday’s OTA.
Helfrich even joked with reporters that “today was a bad build” when asked about what he and Nagy had built on offense during their time together.
Still, the organization appears firmly behind Trubisky.
The Bears technically have options behind Trubisky. Chicago signed high-priced backup quarterback Chase Daniel, who played under Nagy in Kansas City, in free agency, but the franchise’s future is all about Trubisky.
For the Bears to one day contend for a playoff berth, Trubisky has to thrive in Nagy’s offense.
“I feel like [my teammates faith in me is] growing and growing every single day, and nothing gives me more confidence than when my teammates believe in me,” Trubisky said. “The offensive guys and the defensive guys as well. When you have teammates that believe in you and know you can get the job done, that gives you a lot of confidence to just go out there and be yourself and lead the way you know how and just take care of your job and make other guys' jobs easier around you.”
Added Helfrich: “It’s always been that with quarterbacks, we chase perfection. And that’s impossible. It’s a hard chase. But Mitch is a willing participant in that. He comes to every meeting prepared, every meeting with a good question, and he wants to be coached. That’s a big part of it, too.”