BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — One of the better things a player can be in the eyes of their coaches is someone who “doesn’t make the same mistake twice,” as in if they do screw up, they quickly learn from it.
Generally speaking, Mitch Trubisky is considered one of those guys. But he’s not immune to making a mistake, and then making it again later in practice, the next day, the next week, etc. That’s not a knock on his football intelligence or his work ethic, both of which are roundly praised by coaches and teammates.
But it is a reminder that the offense Trubisky is in the process of learning is complex and takes plenty of effort to operate effectively.
“In a perfect world you would say that you never want to see it happen,” quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone said. “Sometimes as a teacher and a coach, when he does make the same mistake twice, you've gotta look interpersonal at that and say, 'Maybe the way I'm teaching it,' or 'he doesn't understand it' or 'it's not clear.'
“But for the most part, what he's done is he's attacked every challenge and every problem as, 'Hey, I'm going to fix that,' or, 'Maybe I don't understand that, let me ask a better question,' and he's been really good with that. And like I said, we'll continue to grow with him and continue to push him on that.”
Training camp has been a two-way street for Trubisky’s learning process, then. Not only is Trubisky figuring out what he can and cannot do within the offense, coaches are learning what they can and cannot put on their second-year quarterback’s plate. That doesn’t mean coaches give up after Trubisky messes up a play a handful of times, but it does mean those plays require some additional scrutiny in film study and meetings.
The explanation of the lengthy learning process backup Chase Daniel detailed back during OTAs is particularly noteworthy here:
“It takes time to build mental reps, it takes time to build on-field reps, and that’s what we’re working on,” Daniel said. “He might have the same play two or three times, but we’re in different formations, and he’s like oh, why do I have this again, and I’m like, because you’re going to see it against five different coverages.”
So while Trubisky’s understanding of Nagy’s offense is “night and day” from where it was at the beginning of camp, the Bears are hardly ready to roll out the offense as a finished product right now. That’s to be expected, given 33 days separate Monday’s practice from Sept. 9’s season opener against the Green Bay Packers.
The Bears will slowly throttle back their focus on installation in the coming days and weeks, which means sifting through reams of evaluation to begin designing gameplans tailored to both Trubisky’s strengths and an opponent’s weaknesses. And Trubisky has a good understanding of what’s expected out of him right now during that figuring-things-out phase.
“You watch the film and you just go back and you don’t make the same mistake twice,” Trubisky said. “You write it down, you study it, you find out the why for why you made the mistake — bad decision, bad read, bad footwork. For me it’s usually one of those three. And then just go back and correct it.
“But we’re out here taking risks. We’re figuring out what throws I can make and maybe what throws we should just hold off on, and what routes, and what works (well) and timing. So we just go back and watch the film (and) don’t make mistakes. But we’re out here getting better and we’re testing it to the limit every day to see what I can do and to see what this offense is capable of. We’ve definitely gotten better every single day.”
Sunday and Monday’s practices probably were Trubisky’s two best of training camp, for what it’s worth. But good or bad, each day is an opportunity to learn for Trubisky and the Bears’ coaching staff — and more than anything, that’s the most important takeaway from this team’s time down in Bourbonnais.
“He needs the reps at it,” Ragone said. “He'll get that again, great, he just saw a different look on that play, he has not seen that before, great teaching tape. Sometimes when you make a mistake down here in training camp, as a coach, you feel OK about it because you're like, 'You know what, we're gonna watch that, he's gonna see what he did wrong, it's gonna stick in his mind and he won't make that again.' And that's what you hope for when guys do make some off-schedule errors that he goes back and corrects them and he's done that so far.”