In time, Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky will be expected to make his teammates better. Just not in his second NFL season.
For Trubisky, the 2018 season will be about learning how to swim in coach Matt Nagy’s offense. His new teammates — backup quarterback Chase Daniel, tight end Trey Burton and receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel — know they’re here to help with that.
Here’s a player-by-player look at what they want to provide Trubisky:
The new mentor
In Daniel’s eight-year career, in which he has made only two starts, there has been only one season that he was asked to be a mentor to a first-round draft pick who had the future of the franchise riding on his shoulders.
In 2016, Daniel followed Doug Pederson from the Chiefs to the Eagles and worked with Carson Wentz in his rookie season.
But four seasons spent behind the Saints’ Drew Brees, a future Hall of Famer, and three spent behind the Chiefs’ Alex Smith also provided Daniel with perspective.
‘‘One of the biggest things in this league is these rookie quarterbacks, second-year quarterbacks get way too much put on their plate,’’ Daniel said. ‘‘Here, we’re going to try to simplify things a little bit, get back to the base offense that Matt runs and just let Mitch play freely and not overload his plate.’’
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Daniel, 31, prides himself on what it means to be a backup.
‘‘Your No. 1 job in that room is to get the starter ready, no matter what,’’ he said.
Daniel assumes the mentor role vacated by Mark Sanchez, but the additional responsibilities of teaching Nagy’s offense — one he learned over a combined four years with the Chiefs and Eagles — make him more important.
‘‘It’s very quarterback-intensive,’’ Daniel said. ‘‘It’s not just go out there and throw to the open guy. We’re going to spend a lot of time in the classroom, a lot of time in walkthroughs, a lot of time just going through the specifics of this offense.
‘‘It’s very specific from a quarterback perspective in terms of splits by receivers, what route does a tight end have on this concept, where the running back is, the depth of a running back. . . . I’m looking forward to teaching Mitchell.’’
Burton is arguably the Bears’ most important signing.
The ‘‘move’’ tight end is an extremely important part of Nagy’s offense, and Burton knows it, too, having played for Pederson and the Eagles.
In Nagy’s two seasons as the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator, tight end Travis Kelce led the team in receptions (168) and yards (2,163). And tight end Zach Ertz led the Eagles in catches (152) and yards (1,640) the last two seasons under Pederson, who preceded Nagy as the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator under Andy Reid. Burton has played behind Ertz his whole career.
‘‘I can just model my game after Ertz, what he brought to [Wentz],’’ Burton said. ‘‘Obviously, [Wentz] was a new quarterback coming into the league and having to learn an offense, as well. There’s just so much you can do.
‘‘[But] it’s almost impossible to guard everybody in the offense if you know what to do and what your checks could be and the [hot reads] and those types of things.’’
The reliable one
Playing with a quarterback who is learning as he goes isn’t new to Robinson. The Jaguars drafted him in second round in 2014 after selecting quarterback Blake Bortles with the third overall pick.
‘‘It’s something where — fortunately enough — in my second year, my quarterback was in his second year, as well,’’ Robinson said. ‘‘I won’t say too much from Mitch’s standpoint, but I know from my standpoint I’ll be able to make his job easy. That’s my goal; that’s what I came here for. I came here to make those plays, to make those catches, to make his job easy.’’
In other words, Robinson is responsible for making Trubisky look better than he is — particularly in the early going — by making contested catches downfield or turning short completions into long gains.
That’s what Robinson did for Bortles, though Trubisky’s accuracy already stands out as a difference between them.
‘‘They didn’t bring me here to not make plays,’’ said Robinson, who averaged 14.1 yards per catch with the Jaguars.
The explosive one
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan wouldn’t have been the NFL’s most valuable player in 2016 without Gabriel, a game-breaker who caught touchdown passes of 47, 76, 35, 25, 64 and nine yards during the team’s Super Bowl run that season.
Gabriel was a fast, field-stretching complement to superstar Julio Jones and No. 2 receiver Mohamed Sanu. The Bears hope Gabriel can provide the same for Trubisky when he’s on the field with Robinson, Burton, receiver Cam Meredith and others.
‘‘Just explosiveness,’’ Gabriel said. ‘‘[It’s] being able to turn a screen into a touchdown, being able to take the top off a defense, just being able to create matchup problems.
‘‘Let’s say Allen Robinson is out there and they want to double-team [him] and I’m on the back side man-to-man. It’s just being able to exploit that and give [Trubisky] another option to take advantage of.’’
What does Nagy envision for him?
‘‘My role is athlete,’’ Gabriel said. ‘‘I do everything.’’
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