BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — One of the things about Mitch Trubisky that’s impressed Chase Daniel since he signed with the Bears is the second-year quarterback’s ability to regurgitate play calls, no matter the length or complexity. That’s certainly a good trait to have, especially during the installation phase of training camp when coaches can call any play at any time and expect Trubisky to be able to effectively communicate it to his teammates.
There is a difference, though, between Trubisky communicating the play and completely understanding it. That’s more of a work in progress, and may be part of the reason fans who’ve come down to Bourbonnais have probably seen Trubisky throw an interception or two (as he did on Monday) over the course of whatever practice they’ve watched.
“You’re still naturally going through that, especially with the volume of plays, there’s that gap,” coach Matt Nagy said. “There’s still times where he’s going to be thinking, he may say for instance, be speaking to the ‘Z’ wide receiver and it’s the ‘zebra’ wide receiver. There’s those little specifics to the play where you can tell one guy to do something but it’s supposed to be the other guy with the extra letter on his label. We’re working through that and you guys know, he’s a hard worker and he’ll fix it, he’ll correct it.”
As things stand on July 30, with five preseason games and over a month of practice separating today from Sept. 9’s curtain-lifting trip to Lambeau Field, this isn’t a significant concern. But the Bears are nearing the end of the installation phase of training camp, meaning coaches will begin to pare down the volume of plays for Trubisky and hone in on the calls they believe have the best chance to be successful in the regular season.
That also means, when the installation period is finished, the Bears want Trubisky to have “total command” of the offense, as offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich put it. Trubisky at this point can get the play calls out, but still has to think a bit about the intricacies of them while doing so.
“For a quarterback you just want an immediate picture in your head of what's going on,” Helfrich said. “One thing to think about, not seven. You know, right now, we're still at that stage where it’s, okay, who's at this position, what's my personnel group, what's the snap count and all the things that take place.”
So Trubisky may get the call out, but he might get something mixed up in it. Or he can spit out the call and get everyone lined up right, but miss a seemingly-minor detail that lowers the chances of the play being effective. Or he can get everything out accurately and quickly, absorb the information in front of him and perfectly execute the play. It’s very much a trial-and-error stage for him and the coaching staff here at Olivet Nazarene University.
At some point in the near future, though, the Bears will be done with installation and begin gameplanning in earnest. At that point, perhaps whatever interceptions Trubisky throws will hold a little more importance, seeing as he'll have a better idea of what plays are coming from the sideline into his headset. But for now, practices are an offensive laboratory of sorts for Nagy and Helfrich, with the end goal being to have Trubisky not only be able to communicate the plays he calls, but fully command and understand them.
And nobody around these parts is concerned Trubisky won’t be able to bridge that gap.
“He’s one of the smarter young guys I’ve ever been around,” Daniel said. “You tell him something one time, he gets it and understands it and goes out and does it on the field. That’s pretty cool to see. It’s not the norm. I’ve been around a lot of guys who have to hear it multiple times, so as far as Mitch’s mental capacity, it’s all there.”