With a finite number of coaching opportunities before training camp, the less time the Bears have to commit to working with Mitch Trubisky on receiving snaps under center, the better. So if one-half of the Bears’ snapping battery says it hasn’t been a big deal, that’s likely a promising sign for the highest-drafted quarterback this franchise has had in 65 years.
Center Cody Whitehair said Trubisky’s effort has been there to transition into taking snaps under center, which is the first hurdle for a college spread quarterback to clear.
“It’s pretty natural, really,” Whitehair said. “Usually, they come in, they’re hungry and they figure it out.”
Trubisky has been working on taking snaps under center since January, when he declared for the draft after one season running North Carolina’s offense almost exclusively from the shotgun. For what it’s worth, the Bears ran 63 percent of their plays from the shotgun in 2017, which was about average for the league.
“It's been a seamless transition,” Trubisky said after being drafted. “I feel like working under center has helped me become even more consistent with my footwork.”
Receiving a snap is, seemingly, a basic part of being a quarterback, but it’s not something that’s a given anymore with so many college offenses running more than 90 percent of their plays from the shotgun.
Still, there are more important things for Dowell Loggains and Dave Ragone to be spending their time on with Trubisky to get him ready for training camp next month. And parsing the words of Whitehair, receiving snaps isn’t getting in the way of that work.
The Chicago Bears have a lot of tight ends on their roster. Nine, to be exact. Of those nine, rookie second-round pick Cole Kmet is the most exciting, while veteran free-agent signing Jimmy Graham is the most baffling.
Tight end was one of Chicago's biggest weaknesses in 2019 and Ryan Pace did his best to fix the problem this offseason. Whether or not he accomplished that goal is up for debate.
According to Pro Football Focus' recent ranking of all 32 tight end groups, he didn't. The Bears came in at No. 26.
The Bears are taking a see-what-sticks approach to the position, as seven other players are competing for the last one or two spots, but this unit’s success will be determined by what Graham has left in the passing game and how ready Kmet is to be a viable contributor as a receiver and as a run blocker. Even with the hefty offseason investment, Chicago’s tight ends come with plenty of question marks.
Graham will be the most heavily scrutinized of the bunch in 2020. The Bears signed him to a two-year, $16 million deal in free agency following a season where it looked like Graham was better suited for retirement than a lucrative multi-year deal. He's a big reason why Chicago's tight ends are still viewed as weakness. As PFF aptly stated, the Bears are, at best, a question mark when it comes to the position.
If Kmet doesn't quickly adjust to the NFL game and make an impact early in his pro career, the Bears' offense will be hamstrung once again by its lack of playmaking tight ends.
Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery is entering just his second season in the league, and after a rookie year that included the usual ups and downs from a first-year player, the expectations are much higher for Year 2.
Montgomery ended last season with 889 yards and six touchdowns, but his 3.7 yards per carry left a bit to be desired. He ran hard; he ran determined. But in today's NFL, sub-900 yards just isn't good enough.
If he has another season with production like that, it could be his last in Chicago. Sure, that seems harsh. But take a look at the running backs who will be available in next year's free-agent market:
And it doesn't stop there. The 2021 NFL draft will provide teams looking to upgrade at running back with some pretty good options:
Montgomery will run behind an improved offensive line in 2020 with the addition of Germain Ifedi and the coaching upgrade through Juan Castillo. The quarterback play should be improved, too, even if Mitch Trubisky wins the job. The presence of Nick Foles will force him to bring his A-game every week. Those two factors will create bigger running lanes and a greater likelihood Montgomery will find his way to the second level of opposing defenses.
But if he doesn't? The Bears won't be hurting for options to replace him.