Bears

How is Mitch Trubisky maximizing his OTA work with the Bears?

How is Mitch Trubisky maximizing his OTA work with the Bears?

Mitch Trubisky has focused his attention during OTAs on learning Dowell Loggains’ offensive verbiage, improving his footwork and developing his pre-snap responsibilities. What he’s not focused on: Under-center snaps, progressions and contracts.

Trubisky is the only Bears draft pick yet to sign, but that’s not something the North Carolina product seemed to particularly care about in early June. 

“That's not really for me to worry about,” Trubisky said. “I’m going to be out here at practice everyday. My agent and the Bears organization is going to handle that. But I'm not really sure how that stuff works. I'm here to play football, I'm not worried about contracts.”

The Bears completed their eighth of 10 OTAs on Tuesday, then have next week’s veteran minicamp as the last part of their offseason program before the team reports to training camp July 26. The laid-back nature of OTAs have allowed Trubisky an opportunity to see what’s necessary to succeed both on and off the field in the NFL. 

Trubisky expected to increase his time commitment to football, but now has an idea of how much time is necessary to study “all day, all night” and take care of his body with training camp a month and a half away. 

“It's all about how much time you want to put in,” Trubisky said. “So for me it's been a huge focus, block out everything else and just come here and do my job. It's been nice the only thing I have to worry about is football, so it's been a lot of fun.”

The Bears made it clear after drafting Trubisky that Mike Glennon would be the team’s starting quarterback in 2017, and Glennon’s forceful affirmation of that last month likely helped foster a good working atmosphere. Trubisky said the Bears have a “great” quarterback room between Glennon, Connor Shaw, Mark Sanchez and position coach Dave Ragone, which is the kind of drama-free relationship John Fox would want. 

Within that quarterback room, Trubisky isn’t having to spend valuable time working on all of the most basic parts of playing the position. He’s smoothly transitioned to taking snaps under center, and the offense he ran at North Carolina had him go through progressions — something that’s not always the case for up-tempo, shotgun-spread college offenses. 

There’s plenty to work on, of course, but Trubisky sounds like someone who’s right where he should be at this stage of his development. 

“I can throw the football and do all the stuff that comes natural,” Trubisky said. “It’s just mastering the offense and being in charge at the helm of the offense. That’s where I need to continue to grow. That takes time. So I just keep coming out here and working on it and try to lead every day.”

The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

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USA Today Sports Images

The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

Asking players about how the defense is “ahead” of the offense is a yearly right of passage during OTAs, sort of like how every baseball team has about half its players saying they’re in the best shape of their life during spring training. So that Vic Fangio’s defense is ahead of Matt Nagy’s offense right now isn’t surprising, and it's certainly not concerning. 

But Nagy is also working to install his offense right now during OTAs to build a foundation for training camp. So does the defense — the core of which is returning with plenty of experience in Fangio’s system — being ahead of the offense hurt those efforts?

“It’s actually good for us because we’re getting an experienced defense,” Nagy said. “My message to the team on the offensive side is just be patient and don’t get frustrated. They understand that they’re going to play a little bit faster than us right now. We’ll have some growing pains, but we’ll get back to square one in training camp.”

We’ll have a chance to hear from the Bears’ offensive players following Wednesday’s practice, but for now, the guys on Fangio’s defense have come away impressed with that Nagy’s offense can be. 

“The offense is a lot … just very tough,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “They’re moving well. They’re faster. They’re throwing a lot of different looks at us and that’s just Nagy’s offense. If I was a receiver I would love to play in this offense, just because you get to do so many different things and you get so many different plays. It just looks fun over there.”

“They’re moving together, and I like to see that,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “We’re not a bad defense. They’re practicing against us, so they’re getting better every day, and vice versa. It’s a daily grind. It’s going to be tough, but those guys, they got the right pieces. I like what I see out there. When somebody makes a play, they’re gone. Everybody can run over there. It’s the right fit for Mitch, it’s the right fit for the receivers, the running backs.”

Still, for all the praise above, the defense is “winning” more, at least as much as it can without the pads on. But the offense is still having some flashes, even as it collectively learns the terminology, concepts and formations used by Nagy. 

And that leads to a competitive atmosphere at Halas Hall, led by the Bears’ new head coach. 

“He’s an offensive coach and last year coach (John) Fox, I couldn’t really talk stuff to (him) because he’s a defensive coach and it’s like Nagy’s offense so if I get a pick or something, I mean, I like to talk stuff to him,” Amukamara said. “He’ll say something like ‘we’re coming at you 2-0.’ Stuff like that. That just brings out the competition and you always want that in your head coach.”

Will Mitch Trubisky be this season's Jared Goff?

Will Mitch Trubisky be this season's Jared Goff?

The Chicago Bears have been compared to the Los Angeles Rams as a team capable of a significant one-year turnaround after the many moves by GM Ryan Pace to improve the offense and build around second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky.

According to NFL.com's Adam Schein, the comparisons go one step further. He thinks Trubisky is the best candidate to be 2018's version of Jared Goff:

"I'm infatuated with the Bears' offseason," Schein wrote. "The Bears smartly followed the Rams' blueprint from last offseason: hand the keys to an offensive guru/quarterback whisperer (Matt Nagy) and dedicate the offseason to surrounding your young signal-caller with talent (Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton in free agency, James Daniels and Anthony Miller in the draft). Trubisky will follow in Goff's footsteps and take a major jump in his sophomore campaign."

MULLIN: Teammates see greatness in Trubisky

The comparison of Trubisky to Goff makes a ton of sense. Both were drafted with franchise-quarterback expectations but had average rookie seasons. Both played their first year with an old-school, defensive-minded head coach who was later replaced by a young up-and-coming offensive specialist. And both Goff and Trubisky were given high-powered weapons to begin their sophomore seasons with (the Rams signed Robert Woods and traded for Sammy Watkins before last season). 

Trubisky has to turn these comparisons into production, however. The Rams' remarkable 2017 campaign was just that because rarely does a team have such a dramatic turnaround in only one offseason. The odds aren't in the Bears' favor.

Still, there's a surge of confidence and support in and around Trubisky from the coaching staff and his teammates. He's doing everything he can to prepare for a Goff-like season. We'll find out soon enough if his preparation pays off.