It might seem like Matt Nagy only talks to his quarterback. But he also listens.
And when Mitch Trubisky said “the comfort level that we have with our two-minute offense is a strength of our offense right now” — as he did after the Bears’ 19-14 victory Sunday against the Giants — Nagy heard it loud and clear.
“Anytime we have plays or something our players like, we always take that into consideration,” Nagy said Monday. “I think you need to.”
The trick for Nagy is taking a fairly well-defined trait — Trubisky’s efficiency in up-tempo, no-huddle situations — and finding a way to replicate the urgency of those situations earlier in the game.
And it’s not just the two-minute production, but the offensive rhythm and cohesion it seems to elicit. After driving 59 yards on nine plays in the last 1:55 of the first half for Eddy Pineiro’s 26-yard field goal against the Giants, the Bears’ offense scored on its first three possessions of the second half — two touchdowns and a field goal that gave them a 19-7 lead.
In that four-drive spurt of efficiency, the Bears averaged 8.2 yards per play (25 plays, 205 yards). The rest of the game, they averaged 3.0 yards per play (44-130).
That has been a theme for the offense all season. The Bears have scored multiple touchdowns six times this season, and every time it has been in single bursts of rhythm and momentum — three touchdowns in 10:02 against the Lions; three touchdowns in 10:03 against the Raiders; three touchdowns in 12:40 against the Redskins.
Trubisky upped the ante after a similar run against the Giants when the Bears scored all their points in four consecutive drives covering 11:36. Yet they were scoreless in the other 48:24 of the game. It all started with the up-tempo drive at the end of the first half.
“You’re just seeing space . . . seeing the defense and you’re just kind of reacting,” Trubisky said. “It’s something I’ve been doing my whole life, so it’s more natural for me.”
Nagy acknowledged Trubisky’s message but noted that the Bears already run a lot of no-huddle offense. But the solution is more than just running no-huddle. It’s getting Trubisky and the offense in that comfort zone when receivers more consistently get open and Trubisky more consistently is on target. That creates the momentum and rhythm that ignite those spurts of success.
“You see some tempo that goes on, and I think that’s good,” Nagy said. “That’s something we look into. We’ve really done it a lot this season. There’s pros and cons to it. It’s always good when it works, and then when it doesn’t work, you’ve gotta be careful with that.”
But there’s a bottom at work here.
“We like it, and we think it’s good,” Nagy said, “and we know that Mitch feels comfortable in that, and I think our offense does, so we want to definitely keep that going.”
But with Nagy’s affinity for changing personnel groupings and matching up with the defense, running tempo can be a little tricky.
“You can really only do so much within your offense when you’re changing different personnel,” Nagy said. “Sometimes you can get handicapped by that.”
So the trick for Nagy is incorporating what he wants to do with what Trubisky does best. It’s not as easy as just playing at warp speed.
“I’ve had everyone in my family say, ‘Why don’t you just play in two-minute the whole time? It’s so easy,’ ” quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone said. “You always say to yourself, ‘Yeah, it sounds great.’ And then all of a sudden you’re like, ‘Man, can we do that?’ The reality sets in sometimes of why and why not.”