Bears

What does being 'light years ahead' mean for Mitch Trubisky and the Bears' offense?

What does being 'light years ahead' mean for Mitch Trubisky and the Bears' offense?

Plenty of cliches have recently been bandied about Halas Hall relating to the growth of the Bears’ offense as it collectively enters its second year operating Matt Nagy’s system. “Light years ahead,” “night and day,” etc. 

Trying to formulate sweeping, far-reaching conclusions out of OTAs — non-padded practices which are strictly regulated under the league’s collective bargaining agreement — is rarely a good idea. The Bears’ offense won’t go from being average-ish in 2018 to great in 2019 based on a 10 practices in May and June that aren’t considered "real football," as some coaches call it. 

But as it relates to Mitch Trubisky, there is some value in dissecting in how he’s “light years ahead” in his knowledge of the offense, and how his operation of it is like “night and day,” as various coaches put it this week. 

Think less, smile more

Nagy made a comment back in March, during the NFL’s annual meeting in Arizona, that he didn’t believe Trubisky’s accuracy issues in 2018 were due to anything physical. 

“It was all just him learning where to go with the ball,” Nagy said. “… When you know what’s going on and things become slower, you can make that more accurate throw. None of it was physical. It was all just mentally learning the offense.”

So take that comment and think about it this way: If Trubisky’s knowledge is “light years ahead” of where it was last year, shouldn’t that lead to an improvement in his accuracy?

The Bears are already seeing that happen during OTAs, even if it’s just in helmets and shorts. 

“We’re able to take the next step on offense because we know what we’re doing on offense,” Trubisky said. “Now we can adjust based off what the defense is giving us.”

Because Trubisky knows the offense better, he doesn’t have to think as much about his own responsibilities in it. And that means he’s able to better process what’s in front of him, allowing him to know exactly where to go with the ball based on the play call as well as defensive coverages, alignments, personnel, etc. 

“The biggest thing I can say about where he’s at is comfort,” quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone said. “It doesn’t mean plays are perfect. It means that the conversations that we’re currently having with him are not elementary and what was he supposed to do, and what was your reaction. It’s way above that. It’s hey, I felt the nickel do this, so I’m gonna do that.”

The thought here of thinking less extends beyond Trubisky within the offense, too. For guys like Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Tarik Cohen, etc., they’re able to know what adjustments they need to make without having to think about where they’re lined up or who they’re lined up against. Given Nagy said in the past some of Trubisky’s incompletions last year were due to bad routes, it’s an encouraging development. 

“When it comes to guys being where they need to be when they need to be there, that’s been very clean for us,” Robinson said. “To see that right now, I think it’s big. This time last year, we were the opposite.”

The student becomes the teacher

A year ago at this time, the Bears leaned on Chase Daniel and Tyler Bray to be additional voices for Trubisky as they installed Nagy’s offense. The experience of those two quarterbacks in iterations of Nagy’s offense was valuable, especially as the rest of the team — running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, offensive linemen — were trying to figure out their responsibilities, too. 

“When you’re going through that the first time you kind of tend to go internal,” offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich said. “You try to survive with what’s your world, not ‘hey dude, I need you right here to do this.’”

With a full year of experience, though, Trubisky is far better equipped to teach other players, like rookie David Montgomery or free agent signee Cordarrelle Patterson, details of the offense and what he wants out of a certain play. That allows him to be more demanding of his teammates instead of simply trying to, as Helfrich put it, survive his own responsibilities. 

“I think it’s a great thing that I know the offense as well as I do now that I’m able to help the new guys, the younger guys and even the guys that are coming back in this offense — how exactly we want it, how exactly coach Nagy wants it,” Trubisky said. “Ultimately I’m the guy out there, so we want to play to work how I see and how coach Nagy sees it.”

Having a quarterback communicate how he wants things — and having that be how the coach wants things — will do nothing but benefit the Bears’ offense. 

“I don’t want to oversell after a few days of OTAs, but where he is in terms of his mental capacity to understand what the other side is doing is as good as it’s been, or ever been, for him at this point,” Ragone said. “(It) doesn’t mean we still don’t make mistakes. (It) doesn’t mean that things always go perfect. But in terms of why he’s doing what he’s doing and the answers he’s giving back when he’s asked a question, we are — we should be, we’re second year in, he’s talking at a higher level than he has at any point last year and hopefully that shows in all his play.” 

NFL.com thinks that Matt Nagy is a very average head coach

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USA Today

NFL.com thinks that Matt Nagy is a very average head coach

NFL.com recently ranked all of the league's head coaches, because the football season may end but creating content never will. 

The top tier consists of all the usual suspects ... except for the guy that literally won the league's award for best coach last season

Matt Nagy came in at 14 on this list, and not even the highest-ranked NFC North coach. The reasoning is a tad suspect; here's what they had to say

Matt Nagy more than delivered in his first year as the Bears' head coach, taking Chicago to the postseason for the first time since the 2010 season. What's interesting about Nagy is that his side of the ball is offense, and prior to getting hired by the Bears, he was known for his work with quarterbacks in Kansas City. Yet, it was Vic Fangio's defense that did most of the heavy lifting to get Chicago to the playoffs. A head coach does much more than run one side of the ball, though. In fact, some of them don't do that at all. They run the office, in some respects. Nagy clearly set a tone in the building, so to speak, which should not be taken lightly. Nor should Nagy's work with Mitch Trubisky, who showed improvement from Year 1 to Year 2. Why is Reich ahead of Rivera but not Nagy? Well, Nagy has yet to achieve postseason success and had stronger personnel than Reich did in 2018.

Is this fair? Probably not! But is this important? Definitely not! Still - give your incumbent COY some more love, NFL. Club Dub! Yelling boom! The visors! 

Pro Football Focus: Bears have NFL’s best run defense entering 2019

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USA Today

Pro Football Focus: Bears have NFL’s best run defense entering 2019

Pro Football Focus doesn’t seem to expect much regression for the Bears defense, at least when it comes to run defense.

PFF analyst Mike Renner ranked every team’s ability to stop the ground game, heading into 2019, and Chicago remains on top.

The team retained its entire front seven, top-to-bottom, with the exception of Sam Acho, who spent most of last season on injured reserve anyway.

One of the biggest keys, in Renner’s analysis, is Akiem Hicks, who was among Pro Football Focus’ top performers in the running game.

“The former Saint is proving himself one of the best free agent additions in recent memory,” Renner wrote. “His 13.3 run-stop percentage was the second-highest figure of any interior defender in the NFL last season.”

The Bears allowed the fewest rushing yards and rushing touchdowns of any defense last season, and the 3.8 yards per attempt they gave up was fourth best.

With the whole gang back together for 2019, the team is in a great spot to run it back under Chuck Pagano.