clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Five final takeaways from the Bears’ preseason and training camp

A year ago, Mitch Trubisky was the No. 3 quarterback when the Bears announced their 53-man roster. This year, he's the unquestioned starter. | David Zalubowsk, AP

Next stop: Green Bay.

The Bears’ extended preseason ended with a wacky 28-27 loss to the Bills at Soldier Field on Thursday. With the Packers looming in Week 1, here are five final takeaways from preseason and training camp:

Trubisky’s team

As much as quarterback Mike Glennon tried and tried, the Bears never were going to be his team after Mitch Trubisky was drafted with the second overall pick. It made for an awkward training camp and preseason last year.

Former coach John Fox, ex-offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and teammates defended Glennon. He was a good guy in a tough situation. The hope was that Trubisky’s arrival would motivate him. But his struggles mounted in the regular season.

From a pure talent standpoint, it was obvious who the best quarterback was early on. Players and coaches saw what Trubisky was doing. Nicknames such as the “Pretty Boy Assassin” arose for a reason. Veteran teammates took note of Trubisky’s long hours at Halas Hall. The entire locker room soon recognized how natural Trubisky was as a leader.

None of that awkwardness exists this year. There’s a new vibe. It’s Trubisky’s team. The future is here.

“Heavy lies the head that wears the crown, and he’s the guy that’s had to wear it from early on in his career, and he’s done a great job with it,” guard Kyle Long said. “He is somebody that can hold everybody accountable, including himself, and he does it with a lot of tact. He’s a great dude off the field. He’s somebody that you want to rally around on the field.”

Getting offensive

Beyond coach Matt Nagy’s “Be you” mantra and reconfigured locker room, there is football — aggressive, innovative, exciting football.

Fox limited Trubisky; Nagy has challenged him. It’s a significant difference. Fox seemed to revel in the fact that he could win games without having his quarterback do much. But Nagy’s X’s and O’s and aggressive philosophies have reinvigorated Halas Hall.

Nagy installed a modern offense for a modern quarterback, with various run-pass options, the zone-read option, frequent shifts and presnap motion, no-huddle looks, moving pockets, a multitude of formations and more.

Members of the Bears’ defense have said they’ll be better off this year after dealing with all the looks in Nagy’s offense. It’s nothing like what they faced with Fox. More important, Trubisky is excited.

“I like everything about this offense, mostly that it’s quarterback-centric,” Trubisky said. “It’s a lot of fun just to get the ball to different playmakers and keep the defense on its heels.”

Meet the new guys

When the Bears take the field against the Packers, new wide receiver Allen Robinson will be there. They’ve successfully managed his return from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, which he suffered in Week 1 last season.

“I feel good,” Robinson said. “Since we started training camp and things like that, I’ve been getting reps [and] I’ve been full-go. I haven’t thought about it.”

Meanwhile, it’s a different situation in New Orleans. Cam Meredith played 39 snaps in the Saints’ last preseason game — a sign that he’s not quite ready after tearing the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee in the Bears’ third preseason game last year. He also missed two weeks of camp because of an undisclosed issue.

Robinson, on the other hand, headlines a quickly overhauled receiving corps. As promised, general manager Ryan Pace changed everything around Trubisky within one offseason by being aggressive in free agency and the draft.

Compared to the last few seasons, it’s obvious the Bears are better off with Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller, Javon Wims and tight end Trey Burton.

The defense rests

It’s fair to question Nagy’s decision to limit Trubisky in the preseason. But it made absolute sense to give his veteran-laden defense a break. Those are separate conversations.

Every projected defensive starter — including linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski over rookie Roquan Smith — started at some point last year for defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. Defensive end Jonathan Bullard is the least experienced with three starts.


• ‘Fun to watch’: Why the Bears’ defense is excited about Matt Nagy’s offense

• Matt Nagy: ‘Full confidence’ in Bears’ Cody Parkey after missed kick Thursday

For the first time in Pace’s tenure, the starting secondary returns intact. There was no need to risk any of them. The same is true for linebacker Danny Trevathan, defensive lineman Akiem Hicks and nose tackle Eddie Goldman.

“In the preseason, you get little nicks and bruises that carry on through the regular season,” Trevathan said. “I felt like it was a smart move on [Nagy’s] part, the way the game is changing. It makes his players look at him like he really cares about us. We see what he’s doing and appreciate it, but at the same time, we know we got work to do. We know we got to get a [win].”

Keeping a secret

Nagy did take a page out of Loggains’ playbook. For the second consecutive preseason, the Bears concealed one of their best threats.

Running back Tarik Cohen played only one snap against the Bengals. He then was on the field for 10 in Denver, making one catch for 10 yards on a screen play.

“He likes to have the football, and he hasn’t had the football, and I’m trying to, like, keep him off my back a little bit,” Nagy said, smiling.

In camp, Cohen played nearly everywhere. Nagy called him a “special talent,” though the coaching staff will be mindful of his workload.

“He’s going to have a very big role in this offense,” Nagy said. “Everybody knows that. That’s no secret. But our job as an offense is to balance that and make sure we don’t do too much. I do not want to run this kid into the ground. I want to make sure, when we have him, that it’s efficient and he’s productive.”