Mitchell Trubisky

The hype is real for the 'natural' Matt Nagy-Mitch Trubisky relationship

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The hype is real for the 'natural' Matt Nagy-Mitch Trubisky relationship

For Mitch Trubisky, Matt Nagy’s offense just makes sense

Mitch Trubisky is still in the nascent stages of learning Matt Nagy’s offense, with this week’s three voluntary minicamp practices beginning to introduce Bears players to the basic concepts of it. 

But this is an offense that, as Trubisky put it, feels more “natural” to his skillset. The frequent use of the shotgun, the RPOs and some of the reads already appear to be a better fit for Trubisky than the conservative, dour offense he ran a year ago (that, to be fair, had lesser personnel). 

“That’s definitely why I love this offense and the coaches and how they’re handling this process,” Trubisky said. “We’re really starting from ground bottom and we start each play with why; this is what it’s good against and if we don’t get this type defense then these are our options to go off that. So this is what we want and if we don’t get this, this is how we adjust from there. They do a great job teaching it, and it’s not only me, all the other positions know the whys of the offense, so everybody will be on the same page. We’ll all have answers and we’ll be able to click as an offense because everybody knows our jobs and what we’re looking for.” 

This is about as important as a development you’ll find in mid-April. The Bears hired Nagy to tether to Trubisky; in turn, Nagy hired a quarterbacks guy in Mark Helfrich to be his offensive coordinator and retained Dave Ragone to be Trubisky’s position coach. Then Ryan Pace signed Chase Daniel and Tyler Bray to back up Trubisky, providing the 2017 No. 2 overall pick with two guys who know the intricacies and language of Nagy’s offense from learning it during their respective years with the Kansas City Chiefs. 

“I feel like these last three days, I’ve been coached more than I ever have,” Trubisky said. That’s not necessarily a shot at last year’s coaching staff, to be fair — there just wasn’t a similar structure in place centered around him. 

It’s not just that the Bears have hired a bunch of quarterback coaches and signed a few veteran backups, though. It’s that all of these moves, from Nagy to Bray, have been tailored to giving Trubisky the best chance to succeed. So, it’s telling that the early returns on those efforts are so positive. 

“He played so much shotgun in college at Carolina,” Nagy said. “So much, and the stuff that we do is easy for him. Now he has to just take that language that he learned in North Carolina, put it into our language, and then what's going to happen is you're going to see an evolution to him. 

“Right now, calling the plays in the huddle is easy. That is not one concern at all for him, calling plays. To me, that's a step forward, because he's ahead of the game, because when he's at the line of scrimmage now, now it's his first wide vision of just understanding the defense and seeing what's coming at him.”

Running back Tarik Cohen said this week that Trubisky was already calling audibles in the huddle during practice, which is another sign that this offense is coming naturally to Trubisky. Trubisky’s teammates talked this week about how he’s taken an even greater command of the Bears as a leader even in the early stages of the offseason program, a role he’ll continue to grow into as he gets more comfortable with the language of Nagy’s offense. 

Does this mean you should start carving out weekends in January to watch the Bears in the playoffs for the first time in eight years? Of course not. But the 2018 season is all about how Trubisky develops as a quarterback. 

And right now, in mid-April, all the signs emanating from Halas Hall indicate that process is going well. 

“It’s exciting,” Trubisky said. “I think that’s why (Nagy) gives me glimpses and previews and we have those side conversations. Just knowing what we’re going to be in the future. First things first, you have to master the basics and build off and go from there. But it’s just exciting to talk about and know that’s where we could be down the line.”

Under Center Podcast: Feeling the good vibes at Halas Hall

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: Feeling the good vibes at Halas Hall

Matt Nagy has roundly impressed his players during minicamp this week, and has done so in a way that carries some importance.

John "Moon" Mullin and JJ Stankevitz dive into how quickly Mitch Trubisky is picking up Nagy’s offense, why Jordan Howard may be feeling refreshed and if the Bears can expect anything out of Kevin White.

Listen to the full Under Center Podcast right here:

All eyes on Matt Nagy, Mitch Trubisky as minicamp begins this week

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All eyes on Matt Nagy, Mitch Trubisky as minicamp begins this week

For the first time as a head coach, Matt Nagy will be able to run practices this week during a voluntary veteran minicamp from Tuesday through Thursday at Halas Hall. He’ll do so with a careful eye on Mitch Trubisky, not only in how the second-year quarterback plays during practice, but how leads his teammates. 

That Nagy-Trubisky relationship is the most important aspect of 2018 for the Bears. All the hype over Ryan Pace’s free agent class — and all the frustration over letting Cameron Meredith sign with the New Orleans Saints — carries far less importance than how Nagy successfully develops Trubisky.

The point: If the Bears get their quarterback right, plenty else wil fall into place. 

“The expectations for us are that we’re going to always push him,” Nagy said last month. “We’re going to give a little bit more to him to see what he can handle, but you got to be able to balance that with other 10 guys and what’s too much. So you have that balance of what you can give him.”

The structure Nagy and Pace put in place around their franchise quarterback — offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone and backup quarterbacks Chase Daniel and Tyler Bray — is designed to provide help for Trubisky at every turn as he is tasked with learning more and more of the Bears’ offense. 

But it’s also incumbent upon that structure — specifically Nagy, Helfrich and Ragone — to tailor the offense in some ways to Trubisky’s game. Nagy’s spiced-up west coast offense already incorporates run-pass options and a quarterback’s ability to use his legs, though, all while demanding flexibility from the skill players around him. So that's a good start, at least better than the conservative, predictable offense Trubisky was tasked with running in 2017. 

We’re probably getting ahead of ourselves in trying to picture what Nagy’s offense could look like, though. This week is the first time players will be able to practice with a ball with their coaches, and the real heavy lifting won’t start for another three months when the Bears report to training camp in Bourbonnais. 

But these minicamps and OTAs that’ll take place over the next two months will provide an opportunity for Trubisky to assert himself as a leader, which will carry plenty of weight once training camp begins in July. And for Nagy, these practices at Halas Hall are important for figuring out how hard he and his coaching staff can push their players, with Trubisky being the most important one in that group. 

“The part that we’ll have to keep a balance on is within practice, when we’re in practice, how you coach him and how he understands,” Nagy said. “OK, we’re going to give you all these plays, these install plays on Day 1, how does he digest that? Can he take it all in? Can we give him more? Where is he at with his progression? Where is he at with his footwork? Where is he at with his mechanics? Where is he at with his actual throws? So we’ll balance that out. We won’t know that until training camp. And then once we get to training camp, now we’ll really start loading him.”