The Chicago Bears are off to their best start in a season through the first three weeks since 2014. Even with the hot start, there’s some concerns with the inconsistent play of starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
Head coach Matt Nagy was hired with the main objective of getting the most out of Trubisky, but has yet to and could be the main reason as to why.
When the Bears hired Nagy earlier this season, general manager Ryan Pace believed Nagy to be the best coaching candidate to get the best out of his most important draft pick. Nagy came from Kansas City Chiefs where he had been the team’s quarterbacks coach for several seasons under head coach Andy Reid before.
Towards the end of last season, he was promoted to offensive coordinator for the team’s last five games. Nagy was credited for the rejuvenation of quarterback Alex Smith’s career as Smith was one of the league’s most efficient quarterbacks during his time with the Chiefs.
Trubisky was put in a very difficult situation as a starter in his rookie season. Starting in Week 5, he had very few talented targets to throw to in the passing game, his offensive line was consistently injured, and some felt that Dowell Loggains lacked creativity as an offensive coordinator.
Three of Trubisky’s main wide receivers last season in Dontrelle Inman, Kendall Wright, and Markus Wheaton are all currently free agents. His best passing targets in tight ends Adam Shaheen and Zach Miller was sidelined for significant portions of the season due to injury.
Even with everything going against his development, Trubisky and the Bears were competitive as of the eight games the team lost with him as the starter, only three of those games were by 10 points or more. In those five losses, the Bears rookie quarterback had a chance to either tie or win the game in the team’s final drive.
Wide receivers Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller, and tight end Trey Burton were all brought in to give Trubisky better-passing options, especially when passing downfield. Nagy’s offensive scheme involves deep routes to the wide receivers and underneath routes by the running backs and tight ends to take advantage of the space created.
With the new weapons and the new playbook, the second year quarterback was going to need as much practice time and live reps as possible to get a firm grasp of the offense.
When the 2018 schedule was released, the Bears were fortunate to find out that they would be playing a fifth preseason game as they chosen to play in the Hall of Fame Game and were given extra practice time ahead of the game. It was just as the new head coach needed to give his inexperienced quarterback to get accustomed to the new settings.
Although Nagy made the most of the team’s practice time, he did not make the most of using the in-game reps for his starting offense.
Trubisky only appeared in two of the five preseason games and only had two offensive series in the first of the two games. His most targeted wide-receiver when he was on the field was Kevin White, who has yet to be targeted in the regular season. Burton was targeted heavily in the third preseason game against Denver and caught a touchdown pass.
Robinson, Miller, and Gabriel combined for one pass reception by Trubisky in those two games and running back Tarik Cohen was targeted once in which the pass was intercepted.
Nagy’s most questionable decision came when he chose to sit his starting offense for the third preseason game which is viewed as the “dress rehearsal game” where NFL teams prep for the game like a regular season game and play into the second half. He believed that his starters performed well in the practices leading up to the game and deserved the time off.
In the three games so far, Trubisky has struggled in the pocket as he appears to look to run the ball after his first read is not available instead of going through his full progressions. In the preseason, He was actually doing the opposite as he appeared to go through his full set of progressions.
The fact that Nagy’s quarterback is looking to run if the first read is not available shows that their might not be deep knowledge of each play. His quarterback might not trust or know the second and third options of each play in order to feel comfortable enough to stay with the play.
If that is the case, it is up to the offensive-minded head coach to dial back the playbook. He can help Trubisky by having a set amount of plays that he feels fully comfortable with and expand from that base. A quarterback that overthinks too much is never going to be successful leading an offense.
Many are also not realizing that Trubisky’s first extended amount of live game-reps with Robinson, Miller, and Gabriel all together didn’t come until week one against Green Bay. The timing of special and deep routes is extremely difficult to pin down, especially when in a live situation with opposing defenses pressuring and trying to break up the pass attempt.
Accuracy is sure to be an issue majority of the times especially for a quarterback throwing to new receivers in a new system for the first time.
This comes back to not getting as many reps as possible for the starting offense. Although both Gabriel and Robinson were injured at times through the preseason, Nagy still had the “dress rehearsal” to get the starting group game reps but chose not to.
Luckily for the Bears, following Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers, they will have their bye week in week five. This will allow the coaches to get a detailed look at the film and focus on what the offense’s struggles are, especially at the quarterback position.
Nagy will need to work on how to get Trubisky to perform better as his decisions in the preseason are a direct effect to the current struggles of his quarterback.
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