Chicago Bears HC Nagy, QB Trubisky remain confident, aggressive
It’s often a split-second decision for a quarterback, whether to go for the big play or the safe play, and it can be quite a conundrum.
Most quarterbacks have some gunslinger in their DNA, but they’re also keenly aware of the importance of avoiding turnovers. Long before the moment of truth arrives – chuck it or check it down -- there’s a mindset that influences the final decision.
Although the Bears stand atop the NFC North with a 2-1 record, they have just four pass plays of 20 yards or longer, while their opponents have 10. So clearly there’s room for improvement on an offense that has benefited from the team’s relentless defense but knows it must do a better job of carrying its weight.
So, how does head coach and offensive play-caller Matt Nagy balance the take-a-shot aspect that’s part of his offensive scheme with the desire to value the ball?
“I don’t think you stop,” Nagy said. “It’s the same thing in basketball. If Steph Curry’s going to miss 12 3’s in a row, I guarantee you he’s going to shoot that 13th, and that’s what we talk about. We’re not going to stop being aggressive when we can, and for us it’s teaching moments of: How did we miss it? Was it the throw? Was it the route? Was it the release? Was it protection? There are a lot of variables that go into a successful play.”
QB Mitch Trubisky isn’t the only factor in the equation, but he’s the most important one. Asked the same question about balancing risk and reward, it’s interesting that the second-year signal caller drops the word “aggressive” into his reply multiple times.
“You’ve just got to weigh it out,” Trubisky said. “You’re always trying to take care of the football, but you have to have that aggressive mindset. You have to play to win. You don’t play not to lose. You just want to give your receivers a chance to go out there and make a play (but) you’re never putting your team in a bad spot by forcing things; making bad decisions.
“If you have good eyes, good feet and you’re seeing it well – as a quarterback, you believe you can make any throw on the field. But if you’re throwing into triple coverage, if you’re forcing the ball and you’re just not doing the right things, I think that’s when you can get into trouble. But you have to be aggressive because we have to put up points as an offense. That’s always in the back of my mindset.”
Trubisky’s underthrown deep ball to Allen Robinson in Week Two against the Seahawks resulted in an interception. But according to Pro Football Focus, he was the only qualifying quarterback in the NFL last year who didn’t allow an interception on a long toss (20 yards or more downfield), though he had just 30 attempts. While Trubisky often speaks of being cautious with the ball, he seems to have a realistic approach to the risks that come with high-reward throws.
“Interceptions happen,” he said. “It’s just part of the game, and sometimes it’s out of your control, as I’ve experienced -- just some tipped balls. I feel like I’ve made good decisions for the most part. I’m going to continue to be aggressive and take shots. And you just have to believe that the next ones are going to fall, which we do.”
Two of Trubisky’s three interceptions this year have come on tipped balls, which have contributed to a mediocre 77.6 passer rating. But, if the pressure of learning a new offense, his own slow start and being the face of a franchise is getting to the 24-year-old, there’s no hint of it. During his Wednesday media session, Trubisky smiled often, joked occasionally and seemed completely at ease.
Asked about the give and take between himself and Nagy is selecting plays for an upcoming week, Trubisky smiled and said: “Usually if coach Nagy wants a play, it gets called and it works. It would be more my favorite plays that don’t get called sometimes.”
Trubisky, a noted scholar at North Carolina, was asked about the possibility of Nagy scaling back the playbook to simplify the attack, and if it would bother him.
“No, not at all,” he said with a laugh. “If a teacher goes, ‘Do you guys want an easy test?’ you’re going to say, ‘Heck yeah.’ ” You gotta study less, I’m gonna ace this test.”
Turning serious, Trubisky said: “The studying and the preparing and just trying to be the best you could possibly be, it doesn’t stop every single week just because they want to condense the game plan or play faster. It doesn’t offend me or affect me at all. Whatever they think is best for this offense, I believe in that, and that’s what I’m going to do this week.”
As for the pressure that comes with Trubisky’s responsibilities and high profile, plus the expectations of a fan base desperate for a winner, Nagy said he doesn’t have to worry about his quarterback or stick up for him.
“I don’t think I need to defend him because he’s a big boy,” Nagy said. “He understands. He gets it. The kid is very mature, very smart, and he’s mentally strong. What I like to do is make sure that I’m there to help him through any of these times. It would be the same way if we were the No. 1 offense in the NFL. It would be the reverse of that. It would be, ’Hey, let’s understand that it’s only been three games, so let’s not get too high or too low, and he does great with that.”
CBs Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper, who both have hamstring injuries, and WR Anthony Miller (shoulder) did not practice Wednesday. S DeAndre Houston-Carson (forearm) returned to practice on a full-scale basis.