By Chris Emma—
(670 The Score) Ever the diligent notetaker, Bears coach Matt Nagy had a surprise for general manager Ryan Pace during their meeting in Kansas City on Sunday – pages and pages of pre-draft notes on Mitchell Trubisky, the team’s 23-year-old quarterback.
Nagy had pages from watching the film of Trubisky’s junior season at North Carolina, reports from his evaluations leading up to the 2017 draft and details from the six-hour meeting that Trubisky had with Nagy and the Chiefs last spring.
“It was unbelievable,” Nagy said of his first impressions. “He did a wonderful job. Thought he’s a hell of a person, thought he knew football inside and out. It was fun talking ball with him.”
That statement inspired faith in Pace, who has the same conviction in Trubisky. With the Chiefs among teams interested in moving into that second slot in the NFL Draft, Pace traded a haul to the 49ers to move up one spot and ensur Trubisky would be his.
During the interview that landed the Bears their next coach, Pace was sold in part because he and Nagy shared a vision for Trubisky.
“It was bigger than that,” Pace said. “It was more about him as leader and visualizing him in front of our entire organization, which was pretty easy to do as we got into it.”
In his opening remarks, Pace stated clearly that hiring Nagy “is about more than the quarterback,” though how Nagy fits with Trubisky certainly had to be among the leading reasons for why Pace’s coaching search ended after just one week.
Nagy, 39, and Pace, 40, clicked over many aspects of their careers and visions, but none was more important than the connection they share over Trubisky. After all, both of their jobs are attached to what Trubisky can become and where he can lead the Bears. Nagy is now in charge of developing Trubisky into a franchise quarterback – or even Alex Smith.
The rookie season of Trubisky brought mixed results, with flashes of promise offset by mistakes that are correctable. Among the first focuses for Nagy will be working with Trubisky in his pre-snap command, identifying coverages and realigning the offense in the span of a 40-second play clock.
Then, it’s about taking it to the pocket.
“One of the biggest things that you look into in his situation right now is the decision-making,” Nagy said after his introductory press conference. “How’s his decision making? Was that the right decision? And it might be game-specific; it might be situationally. Did you take a sack when you weren’t supposed to (and) get us out of field goal range? Those are things that you can quantify and it doesn’t matter positionally who’s out there.
“To be able to digest the offense to where it can run smoothly without coming out and guys not being able to get out of the huddle … All the other stuff, that will come.”
The potential of Trubisky was evident in his first dozen starts in the NFL, but every so often, he would look like a quarterback who could’ve benefited from that redshirt season. Mike Glennon’s struggles didn’t allow it. There were tight spirals that split defenders but also too many times he failed to throw the ball away or a Bears drive stalled as the result of a misread.
Nagy is eager to begin working with Trubisky and fine-tuning his game. He will also work to structure an offense around his strength.
Kansas City had an offense that was considered cutting edge around the league, creating different looks within various formations to create unpredictability. That wasn’t the case for the Bears last season, whose offense was predictable and often lacked a rhythm. Trubisky can benefit from an offense that utilizes his mobility with a moving pocket, uses frequent run-pass options that leave defenders guessing and put playmakers like Tarik Cohen and Adam Shaheen into space.
It’s the task of Pace to bring the Bears some game-changing talents at receiver, because they don’t have a Tyreek Hill out wide. This team needs more to ensure Nagy is put in position to succeed as head coach, and that’s up to Pace.
Trubisky and Nagy reconnected in the Halas Hall weight room Tuesday. The quarterback has remained in Chicago and was ready to welcome his new head coach. They will soon get to work and strive for progress together.
Ultimately, Nagy’s Bears will only go as far as Trubisky takes them.