Mitchell Trubisky

Ryan Pace aggressively got his QB and coach, and will sink or swim with Mitchell Trubisky and Matt Nagy

Ryan Pace aggressively got his QB and coach, and will sink or swim with Mitchell Trubisky and Matt Nagy

We don’t know if Ryan Pace’s plan for the Bears is going to work, not less than one year after he drafted Mitchell Trubisky and less than two days after he hired Matt Nagy. 

But we do know this: These next few years are going to be absolutely fascinating in Chicago. Pace, Nagy and Trubisky are tethered to each other now, and as a trio will either sink or swim for a franchise that's done a lot of sinking recently. 

Pace and the Bears introduced Nagy as their 16th head coach on Tuesday, and with it came a pointed message: We didn’t hire this guy just because he’s a former quarterback who’s worked with quarterbacks in his coaching career. Pace believes Nagy has what it takes to lead an entire roster — not just an offense or quarterback room — out of the basement of the NFC North. 

How a first-time coach will command respect of the locker room is a critical question to answer. But Pace is sold on the 39-year-old’s ability to connect with a team despite his lack of prior head coaching experience. 

“The more research you do and the more people you talk to, different than me when I came in here, you find out about the person, find out about his makeup and his work ethic and all those things, and at the end of the day, it wasn't a concern,” Pace said. “I like his energy and I like how creative he is and how innovative he is. He's willing to think outside the box. Those are intriguing traits.” 

But make no mistake, the Bears have to get the quarterback position right. Pace didn’t trade up a spot to draft Trubisky just to have him be “fine.” Pace didn’t take just eight days to decide on a coach for him to not work well with the franchise’s most important player. Not only did John Fox not win enough games in his three years with the Bears, his conservative approach to gameplanning just didn’t seem to mesh with a team that just drafted a quarterback in a quarterback-driven league. 

Everything the Bears have done in the last 12 months lead up to this moment has been aggressive. The Indianapolis Colts also interviewed Nagy; their general manager, Chris Ballard, overlapped with him in Kansas City. Like with drafting Trubisky, Pace didn’t want to leave anything to chance once he had conviction that he had found his guy. 

“It’s a competitive market right now,” Pace said. “… We’re going to be thorough in our research and when we have conviction, we’re going to be aggressive and get it done.”

So if “aggressive” is the key word here, it certainly seems to fit Nagy’s style. 

“As far as being aggressive, that’s my nature,” Nagy said, in reference to his playcalling strategy. “I’m going to be aggressive, but it has to calculated. You need to understand the difference between being too aggressive and not aggressive enough. If you ask someone to cross the line on me being aggressive or not, they’re going to say aggressive, as a play caller and person.”

Not all of those aggressive moves have worked (see Glennon, Mike). Maybe Trubisky and/or Nagy won’t, either. If the Bears have to draft another quarterback or hire a different head coach in a few years, chances are Pace won't be the one making those decisions. 

But this structure may work out, too. Trubisky could flourish under Nagy's tutelage and flourish in a modern NFL in which quarterback play is paramount to success. We'll see. 

Either way, it’s going to be a hell of a ride as we watch this play out over the next few years. 

Prediction: Will Mitchell Trubisky end his 2017 season on a high note?

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USA Today

Prediction: Will Mitchell Trubisky end his 2017 season on a high note?

Mitchell Trubisky’s first four starts in the NFL came against a run of top-level, playoff-caliber defenses, beginning with the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 9. That game ended for the Bears rookie when Vikings safety Harrison Smith baited him into an ill-timed aggressive throw just before the two-minute warning. 

Starting with that Minnesota game, Trubisky faced the Nos. 3, 1, 8 and 7 defenses (by Football Outsiders’ DVOA) in October; a month later, he faced the Philadelphia Eagles’ No. 5 defense. While John Fox and Dowell Loggains kept the gameplans conservative/controlled/limited for Trubisky, a sizable segment of Year 1 was trial by fire for him. 

Trubisky completed 12 of 25 passes for 128 yards against Minnesota on Oct. 9, throwing that interception but also recording his first career touchdown (though it was on another aggressive pass that safety Anthony Sendejo deflected). Sunday’s season finale represents another crack at the Vikings for Trubisky, though he struggled in his second go-around against the Detroit Lions earlier this month. 

“Just from the experience I've gotten since the last time we played them hopefully the game will slow down for me a little bit, I'll be able to see things a little better and then just open up in the pass game more,” Trubisky said. “But it's going to be up to us on offense just to go out there and execute because they've got a really good defense, so we just have to go out there and execute, play our game plan, keep our defense off the field and convert and find ways to score.”

Disappointing for Trubisky is that he may not have Adam Shaheen (chest, questionable) active for the third consecutive week; Shaheen played only 11 snaps in Trubisky’s debut Oct. 9. That relationship still needs to grow, but may have to wait to re-start until OTAs and offseason workouts. 

So more than anything, Sunday’s trip to Minneapolis will be another notch of experience for Trubisky, and that’s positive even if it’s a slog against a division-winning defense that still has something to play for. 

Prediction: Vikings 23, Bears 14

Under Center Podcast: Bears drop the Browns to 0-15

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: Bears drop the Browns to 0-15

It’s a Christmas Miracle! The Bears dropped the Browns to 0-15 on the season with a 20-3 win at Soldier Field on Christmas Eve.

Laurence Holmes, Alex Brown and Jim Miller break down the play of Kyle Fuller and Mitchell Trubisky and ask: “Do you feel bad for the Browns?!” Hint – Alex Brown DEFINITELY doesn’t.

Plus, a look ahead to the last game of the season as the Bears take on the Vikings on New Year’s Eve.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: