By Robert Zeglinski
BOURBONNAIS – This shouldn’t be shocking, but the Bears’ offense under Matt Nagy is a major work in progress. Newsflash: signing a sizable free agent group, getting a polished draft class rolling, and implementing a new scheme takes time to gel. Another muggy and wet Saturday at camp wasn’t a solid outing for Mitchell Trubisky and company, but that’s okay. On the way to the high-flying attack they’ve professed the entire off-season, bumps in the road will surface as processing and chemistry is developed.
With all the moving parts, Nagy knew this was part of the deal.
“For our offense, this thing is not going to happen overnight, and we understand that,” said Nagy of the Bears’ uneven day. “We as coaches understand that, and we’re building it.”
Indeed, whatever prolific offense the Bears theoretically may have, first the players have to get on the same page. From multiple misconnections and sailed throws by Trubisky to Kevin White and Allen Robinson, to merely aligning properly, the Bears’ offense has looked discombobulated so far. It’s not just a product of a defense that’s played together for three seasons. It’s an offense that has never played together struggling to get a footing.
In these moments, it’s important to keep perspective. What the Bears’ offense looks like now isn’t what it’s going to look like a week from today. With a young quarterback like Trubisky getting his legs under him, patience and teaching is the key. Early camp and summer is when to get the kinks out.
“As long as you stay patient with it, it’s going to be okay,” Nagy said of his process. “They (the Bears) have to know it’s okay to make mistakes. Eventually down the road we can be a machine after learning from them.”
The “best receiver in the draft” shines
When the Bears traded back into the second round to draft Anthony Miller, they knew full well what he was capable of. This wasn’t your typical rookie receiver learning the ropes slowly. They went and snatched Miller because they understood he could be a dynamic piece from the get-go.
Miller’s stellar quickness was routinely on display on a number of routes Saturday, as was his proficiency with the ball in the air in contested areas. There was no stopping this competitive train, regardless of the defensive back lined up across from him. He not only made the Bears’ initial assessment of him look accurate, he made them look like geniuses.
“He’s a playmaker, he’s fiery, he makes plays,” said a beaming Nagy of Miller. “You can see he plays with some confidence, which is good.”
One of the main traits the Bears appreciated about Miller was that confidence. That swagger is why Miller is capable of being special because he plays with a passion.
However, to say Miller doesn’t have anything to fix would be a mistake. For as polished as he already is, he’s a rookie. Before he becomes a star as the Bears have envisioned, it’s the little things like technique, knowledge, and even occasionally reining in his energy. Part of Miller growing up is managing the energy and learning how to dial in. Never limit, but channel as Nagy made sure to clarify.
“As coaches when we drafted him, you saw that he (Miller) makes plays and that he plays with that swag,” continued Nagy. “You never want to take that away, but you gotta control it and make sure he plays within the game a little bit as far as the system. He made some plays, but trust me, he has mistakes. And we’ll correct them.”
Daniel the mentor, the teacher, the friend
The main reason the Bears went out and made Chase Daniel the second highest-paid backup quarterback in the NFL wasn’t because of his potential play in filling in for Trubisky. Daniel has been in the league for eight seasons but only has two starts in that time. If Trubisky goes down, the Bears likely won’t be in ideal conditions anyway.
No, Daniel is in Chicago to help Trubisky come into his own. The veteran doesn’t have much firsthand experience of starting, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be the perfect mentor Trubisky needs. In fact, if there’s anyone that understands what Trubisky is going through with this Bears-Chiefs-Eagles offensive mix, it’s Daniel with his firm roots in each of those systems.
The comforting part is that Daniels knows when to step in and when to let Trubisky learn individually in regards to mental repetitions.
“The biggest thing with Chase (Daniel) is that he really helps Mitch (Trubisky) out with the mental side,” said Nagy of the veteran quarterback’s tutelage. “Chase has a great feel of when to step in and let Mitch know ‘you could’ve done this or you could’ve done that.'”
If Daniel is going to assist in Trubisky’s ascension as a quarterback, he has to pick his spots carefully. The psyche of a signal caller is a delicate balance. A veteran like Daniel that’s been around standouts and greats such as Drew Brees, Carson Wentz, and Alex Smith understands his role better than anyone. That means that as far as friends go, Trubisky is in excellent hands.
“He’s not always on top of him, giving him too much information,” continued Nagy of Daniel’s teaching. “He knows this offense and knows when to pull Trubisky aside.”
In a quick health roundup, Aaron Lynch missed Saturday’s Bears practice with a hamstring injury. According to Nagy, Lynch suffered it during Friday’s relative walkthrough and was held out to be cautious. The 25-year-old pass rusher signed a one-year deal with Chicago in the off-season and has already suffered three injuries in his short stay. Not a good start for any kind of rebound.
Meanwhile, Kyle Long had a scheduled off day and didn’t practice on Saturday either. Nagy maintained this was part of their recovery plan for him and that everything was on track. Long is recovering from three surgeries on his ankle, labrum, and neck done earlier this winter.
As for your daily Roquan Smith update: he’s still not at camp. R.
Robert is your guy for all things Bears. He’ll be with the team all through training camp. Find him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.