BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – The dominance of the Bears’ defense during camp ’19 has been a one-note samba for the most part, with the offense having its way on occasional plays but rarely establishing anything close to the kind of successful rhythm that coaches and players crave and every offense needs, or else.
On the last training-camp practice open to the public, attended by a camp-high 9,141, the offense showed progress discernable to the naked eye, without the filter of coach-speak or qualified assessments.
Coach Matt Nagy gave the offense an edge of sorts by increasing the tempo of plays in team sessions, interspersed with several “breaks” in which Nagy gathered the offense together for brief resets.
“Sometimes I’ll do that just to give our guys a little bit of a break and talk through the next play,” Nagy said, then deadpanned, “and if it’s a good play and it works, then it looks like I called the play and it’s not scripted.”
Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and most of his huddle mates temperamentally prefer pace. According to Pro Football Focus, the offense ran 36 no-huddle snaps in 2018. Of the seven run plays from no-huddle, two went for touchdowns and two for first downs. Passing out of no-huddle was less successful overall but produced 8.7 yards per attempt, significantly more than the 6.8 yards per attempt coming out of the huddle.
The results on Saturday, whether because of the tempo change or whatever, were arguably at least incrementally better than too many of camp’s sessions. Using an informal measure of about 4 yards as the standard for a “successful” play, and tracking just the No. 1 unit, the offense in the first team session was successful on only three plays, vs. eight stops by the defense, including one near interception of Mitchell Trubisky.
In the second No. 1 team session, the offense “won” five plays, the defense five as well. In the third session, the offense netted the four-yard standard six times, vs. three stops by the defense.
“We had a good practice, great weather,” Nagy said. “We did some uptempo stuff just to change things up a little bit for the guys, the monotony of it, and I think they handled it well for the most part.”
Not insignificantly perhaps, the day concluded with just one total interception for the three offensive units, led by Trubisky, Chase Daniel and Tyler Bray.
Also not insignificantly, the offense was managing its steps forward without a full measure of No. 2 wide receiver Anthony Miller, who was sidelined during practice with an unspecified foot issue, and without tight end Trey Burton, still being held out after offseason hernia surgery.
“I've played in this offense for four years now, I believe, so I know it like the back of my hand for the most part,” Burton said. “I just can't wait to get back out there.”
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