By Chris Emma–
(670 The Score) Before the pictures of promise or rookie mistakes could flash on film, Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky showed new offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich that they can work well together.
“You can tell a quarterback is coachable watching his feet and his eyes,” Helfrich said at Halas Hall last Thursday. “And his eyes are deliberate. They’re going from (progressions) one to two to three or (he’s) looking here, high-low on this guy, whatever it is, they’re deliberate.”
The former Oregon coach, Helfrich arrived in Chicago eager to work with Trubisky for just that reason. He sees a 23-year-old quarterback with great accuracy and the ability to take care of the football and also some tendencies that can be fixed like poor footwork or rushed reads.
New Bears coach Matt Nagy made the important hire of his offensive coordinator without prior convictions and found his way to Helfrich, who went 37-16 over four seasons and led Oregon to the national championship game after the 2014 season. They immediately clicked during a first meeting together.
Nagy was drawn to Helfrich because they could add spread elements into his modernized West Coast offense. Helfrich came to the Bears for several reasons, with Trubisky obviously one of the most important factors.
“You have a talented guy who wants to be coached,” Helfrich said of Trubisky. “And then, when you have a talented guy that wants to be great — you get him to say that, right — then hold him to that standard.”
Trubisky started a dozen games in his rookie season, completing 59.4 percent of his passes for 2,193 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. It was a mixed performance that certainly could’ve been influenced by a better supporting cast. The offense of then-coordinator Dowell Loggains was also more run-based and aimed at keeping Trubisky from making major mistakes more than anything else.
The 44-year-old Helfrich came up in the college ranks at Boise State and Arizona State with Dirk Koetter — now the Buccaneers’ head coach — before becoming offensive coordinator for Chip Kelly at Oregon in 2009. He was named head coach ahead of the 2013 season after Kelly moved to the NFL. Helfrich and the Ducks went 24-4 his first two seasons but 4-8 in 2016, and he was fired.
At Oregon, Helfrich was instrumental in the growth of Marcus Mariota, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Mariota broke the mold of Ducks quarterbacks fitting only the college game, showing through his work with Helfrich that he could thrive with the Titans in the NFL.
Helfrich sees similarities between Mariota and Trubisky, the No. 2 overall pick in 2017. Nagy realized that Helfrich could be beneficial for Trubisky based on his work at Oregon.
“Being a delicate position, you have to be able to handle them the right way and understand where they’re at and how they develop,” Nagy said. “There are going to be some times you have to get on them a little bit. There’s going to be tough love. But really, when it comes down to it, teaching details and fundamentals, and he has that. That’s easy to tell.”
Nagy and Helfrich have already begun combining philosophies for their offense, inserting spread elements into the system in order to maximize Trubisky’s mobility. Their hope is for a cutting-edge offense that best suits Trubisky and makes the rest of the offense better around him.
Soon enough, Helfrich will begin coaching Trubisky toward what he could become.