Bears

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

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USA Today Sports Images

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.”

Why 'Turbo' Taylor Gabriel fell in love with the slow-paced game of golf

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USA Today

Why 'Turbo' Taylor Gabriel fell in love with the slow-paced game of golf

Plenty of NFL players will use the league’s mandated five-week summer break to play a little golf as a way to relax and recharge for the grind of training camp and regular season. But you won’t find many players who take golf more seriously than Bears wide receiver Taylor Gabriel. 

Which is a little ironic on the surface, right? Gabriel’s nickname is “Turbo,” after all. 

“Yeah, that’s very weird when I think about it,” Gabriel laughed. “It’s not a sport to where you’re running and jumping, and I wouldn’t say not doing anything really athletic — it’s more mental than anything. 

“But I feel like it kind of helps me football-wise in the sense of kind of focus. Like dialing in on that swing, keeping that same swing rhythm pattern, not getting too frustrated after I just sliced a drive or go O.B. on the driver. So it’s helping me.”

Gabriel had played sporadically earlier in his life, and said his father golfs, but didn’t get hooked by the sport until last April while watching Tiger Woods win the Masters. He bought his first set of nice clubs after that remarkable weekend in Augusta and frequently posts videos of his swing to his Instagram account.  

So it’s become a serious hobby of his — “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t practice,” he said. It’s also something he and his wife do together. 

Though he admitted his wife is a better golfer than he is. 

“She’s not trying to crush the ball, she’s not trying to do too much, but she keeps that consistent same rhythm, same swing, same follow-through every time,” Gabriel said. “Me, I might see the hole is probably 180 (yards) out, I mean, I just want to crush it on the green. And that’s when everything goes wrong.”

Still, for someone who’s only been seriously golfing for about two months, that Gabriel said he can consistently hit his drives 240 yards is rather impressive (being an exceptional athlete, certainly, has to help). But this isn’t some casual love affair with golf — it’s a legitimate way for Gabriel to take his mind off football while staying sharp mentally and doing something he’s quickly grown to genuinely enjoy doing. 

“It’s relaxing, just playing 18 holes — I’m a walker, I like walking,” Gabriel said. “Eighteen holes kind of figuring out your swing, what you did wrong, you know what I mean, just being on the golf course, relaxing, the atmosphere. But at the end of the day I’ve been doing pretty good. I’ve been hitting them pretty straight, I’ve been putting them pretty good, so I guess I’m catching on quick. 

“But every time I ask a golfer, I mean, how long did it take for you guys to get a consistent swing, they say 20 years. I mean, I got that to look forward to.”  

Pro Football Focus: Khalil Mack is NFL’s most valuable edge rusher

Pro Football Focus: Khalil Mack is NFL’s most valuable edge rusher

It didn’t take the Bears long to see how valuable Khalil Mack is to their defense, elevating the group from the moment he first stepped on the field.

He’s been among the league’s best outside linebackers since he first broke out in 2015, and the analytics back up the eye test.

He was the highest edge defender on Pro Football Focus’ list of the top 50 players in the NFL, and their “wins above replacement” metric shows why.

It’s Mack and Von Miller, then everyone else.

“Foremost, Mack is a slightly more complete player than Miller when it comes to defending the run,” PFF’s Ben Linsey wrote. “Yes, run defense is significantly less important than an edge rusher’s ability to disrupt the quarterback, but with so little difference between the players, everything gets put under the magnifying glass.”

Over the past four seasons, both players have exactly 49 sacks, although Mack missed two games over that span. The Bears outside linebacker has the edge in interceptions, forced fumbles and tackles for loss, most coming with a lower quality defense around him than what Miller has had in Denver.

It’s no surprise Ryan Pace was willing to trade multiple first-round picks to make Mack the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history. He’s the best in the league.

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