After an offseason flurry of adding weapons to second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky’s arsenal, all eyes have been on the Chicago Bears offense through the first week of training camp.
While expectations are high, Saturday morning’s practice proved that the unit still has a long way to go.
Trubisky continued his early camp struggles by throwing three interceptions, including one to cornerback Prince Amukamara in seven-on-seven drills and a pick-six to linebacker Nick Kwiatkowski. Kwiatkowski deserves plenty of credit for making a nice heads-up play to jump the route.
The interceptions illustrated how far off the Bears’ rhythm is on offense. There were plenty of instances where timing was off between Trubisky and his receivers, and the offensive line looked overmatched at times in drills against the front seven of the defense.
A perfect example of the offensive miscues came late in practice during the first drive of a two-minute drill. The first-string offense ran three quick plays that resulted in a “sack,” a throwaway pass and a high snap from center Cody Whitehair that went over Trubisky’s head. Trubisky punted the ball in frustration before the second-stringers took the field.
However, these frustrations and mistakes are a natural part of the process. When you have a young quarterback and new cast of receivers learning a new playbook, growing pains should be expected.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. So what makes you think the timing of Matt Nagy’s offense is going to come together overnight?
Trubisky’s six interceptions have been brought up a lot throughout the beginning of training camp. But Nagy and the Bears offensive coaches are okay with him taking some bumps while learning the new offense.
One thing is clear: Nagy is the opposite of former head coach John Fox. Fox and former offensive coordinator and Dowell Loggains handled Trubisky with kid’s gloves during his rookie season. To them, a young quarterback should manage the game at painstaking pace to avoid as many risks as possible.
For Nagy, he encourages Trubisky to sling it around and get the jitters out.
“He’s adjusting to any negative-type plays,” Nagy said Friday, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “So if there’s an interception, if there’s a screw-up in the play call, if he calls the wrong play in the huddle, he regroups… It’s him coming out here trying to be a great quarterback, but don’t force it and make bad mistakes. If you do make mistakes, correct them. Don’t make them again. And he’s doing really well with all that.”
Trubisky’s short memory was on display after the interception to Kwiatkowski. On the next play, he fired a 25-yard pass over the middle to Allen Robinson.
There are certainly other encouraging signs from the offense. Running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen had a few nice runs throughout the day. Both are going to be vital to the Bears offensive and could be leaned on earlier in the season while the unit gets their feet wet.
Right guard Kyle Long appears to be healthy and in great shape. He was very active Saturday, pancaking defenders and bringing lots of fiery energy (which included a quick skirmish with defensive end Akiem Hicks). Having Long back in the fold and healthy will be a major key to the Bears offense this season.
Rookie receiver Anthony Miller continued his impressive camp by making plenty of difficult catches, including a couple of contested ones on the sideline during seven-on-seven drills. Miller is showing Bears fans why GM Ryan Pace traded up to draft him this past April.
The biggest benefit of playing in next Thursday’s Hall of Fame game is that it allows the Bears offensive extra time to gel and work out all the kinks this preseason. If these problems continue during the course of the regular season, then there might be reason for concern.
But for the time being, all of this is part of the process.