For those of you seeking a Masters degree, find a subject you love as much as Mitch Trubisky loves level 202 of Matt Nagy’s offense.
The Bears quarterback met the media at Halas Hall for the first time this offseason Wednesday following the second open OTA, saying the difference in his familiarity and comfort level in the scheme is stark.
“We’re just playing football. It makes it fun,” Trubisky said. “And you kind of see why everything happens and everyone’s on the same page and you kind of see everything come to fruition."
None of this should come as surprise. After all, this is the time of the year when seemingly everyone’s enhanced knowledge around the NFL is night and day from the previous season, and not everyone is entering Year 2 of the same offense for the first time in his professional career like Trubisky.
Nagy said last week with “pure conviction we’re in 202 right now” and Trubisky’s doing things now “that last year at this time he wasn’t even close to.” That means reacting to what the defense is showing — and adjusting — and also teaching and explaining things to his newer teammates.
“It's just not second-guessing and being in the head, and being able to teach it to everyone else on the offense. So that's the goal to reach to, just master something where you know it so well you can even teach it to anybody,” Trubisky said.
Unofficially, that was part of Chase Daniel’s role last season as the Bears experienced backup steeped in Nagy’s offense serving as an on-field coach for the young franchise signal caller. Now, Trubisky is starting to sound more like that seasoned veteran, coming off a season in which he logged a 95.4 passer rating and 24:12 TD-INT ratio for the NFC North champions.
Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, who actually dropped the “night and day” description Wednesday for Trubisky’s offseason relative to a year ago, expounded on how he knows his young quarterback is picking up what his coaches are putting down.
“Absolutely teaching. And communicating," Helfrich said. "That’s one thing, again, when you’re going through that the first time you kind of tend to go internal. You try to survive with what’s your world, not ‘hey dude, I need you right here to do this.’ And that’s much more of what he’s done, what the other receivers have done, what the other running backs have done that have been here."
It’s a critical development with Trubisky receiving another influx of new resources obtained by the Bears specifically to foster his growth. His ability to articulate and help rookies David Montgomery or Riley Ridley get lined up, or communicate with 21-year-old C James Daniels in his first full NFL offseason at a new position is vital.
Trubisky’s 2018 season, relatively speaking, was a major success. He intermixed incredibly bright flashes, franchise QB-caliber moments, with others that illustrated inconsistencies and growing pains. Again, about what we should expect from one of the least experienced first-round quarterbacks ever entering the NFL.
There’s obviously plenty of room for improvement. Trubisky, who had a tendency last season to sail the deep ball, quipped at one point Wednesday in response to a question about the Bears’ ongoing kicking competition and fans rabid interest in it.
“I know for me, a lot of my throws, [fans] are just going after them. But that is what it is at that point. I guess it’s the trend. People follow trends. They follow things that are popular and things that are fun to talk about. Once we take care of it, it won’t even be a thing.”
If overthrowing open receivers on vertical routes was last year’s trend, and that's probably a stretch, this offseason's rage seems to be the number of signs pointing toward Trubisky's growing confidence. Another stretch? Of course only time will tell, but it certainly sounds like he's in an encouraging stage in his development.
"I feel really great out there. I feel very comfortable," Trubisky said. "It's just a lot of fun to be back in Chicago with the boys playing football again. I think smooth is really a good word to describe how things are going. Everyone's on the same page. Everyone knows what they're doing in Year Two in this offense, so it's a lot of fun just getting out there and going through it and just being even more detailed than we were last year within every single and each play."