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Tru or false? Bears’ defense making offense better

Mitch Trubisky is convinced that the frustration of facing the Mack Men in practice will bear fruit in the regular season: “You gotta believe that’s making us stronger.”

Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky is confident the offense is making progress that will show up when the bell rings on Sept. 5 against the Packers.
For the Sun-Times

BOURBONNAIS — After another uneven practice, Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky acknowledged the frustration of facing a defense that holds all the cards in training camp — elite personnel, cohesion, chemistry and such a familiarity with the Bears’ offense that it looks like it’s cheating.

“Sometimes it feels like they’re cheating. [That’s] accurate,” Trubisky said. “It just creates a big challenge for us, and I can’t wait for them to play against somebody else besides us. But in the meantime, we’re just competing and trying to find the open guy. It’s been fun.”

Until tangible evidence of a breakthrough for Trubisky and the offense in Year 2 under coach Matt Nagy emerges, Trubisky at least gets credit for keeping his eye on the ball through a difficult episode amid high expectations. He’s embracing the challenge, not letting the frustration get to him, not being defensive about all the questions about how great the defense is and how unimpressive the offense has been — and accentuating the benefits of battling an elite, motivated defense. He’s getting the leadership part down.

“You get frustrated because you’re so competitive, and you want to win every drill,” Trubisky said. “It’s not realistic to win every drill, but that’s what you strive for, especially going against our defense. They’re tough. They create a great challenge for us every day, but you gotta believe that’s making us stronger and better.

“We go on film and we watch, and it seems like we had a frustrating day, but you go watch the film, and it’s like, ‘You got better here, here and here.’ You just got to keep making those plays and keep being competitive and not back down. That’s what we’re doing. They’re pushing us, and we’re pushing them. So we just got to keep going at it. We know how good they are, but we’re going to compete with them and stick with them every day.”

Trubisky threw into double coverage and was intercepted by Prince Amukamara and followed it up with a laser to Allen Robinson over the middle for a touchdown in practice Monday as the great debate of training camp raged on: Is the Bears’ defense making Trubisky and the offense look bad? Or is the offense making the defense look good?

The answer won’t come until the season opener against the Packers on Sept. 5 at Soldier Field because the devolving NFL preseason isn’t expected to yield many authentic results. But Nagy is convinced Trubisky and the offense will be ready when the bell rings and isn’t going to micro-analyze every play in practice.

“No, no,” Nagy said. “When you do that, you’re going to beat your head into the ground. You can’t do that. We have [the] big picture. There’s going to be some interceptions. I said it last year — we don’t get frustrated over that. We’re testing some things out. That’s [the media’s] job, to be critical of him and me. We know how to balance that. We know what’s real and what’s not real. That’s what we do.”

Coming off a 12-4 season, Nagy has earned the benefit of the doubt. But when asked for the best assessment of Trubisky’s camp so far, his response was less than reassuring.

Trubisky throws in front of quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone.
Nam Y. Huh/AP

“I’d say more stuff that we all don’t see, which is the productions and understand how to fix that,” Nagy said. “Seven-on-seven, there’s no threat of the run, so you’re allowed to play a little bit deeper in coverage and know that we’re going to throw it, so we force some balls in there. But I think reining him back in once the season comes, to just taking what they give you — always with that mentality of trying to go deep when we can.”

And the progress Trubisky sees on film that isn’t so obvious to the naked eye was not much more convincing.

“A lot of situational drills,” Trubisky said. “Maybe we get a call that we fixed. Or we pick up a first down or do something situationally that we haven’t done in the past. I think that’s where we’re growing and coming together as a team. We’re just seeing a lot of different looks, and we’re adjusting off that. That’s allowed us to grow as an offense and stay on the same page.”

At this point, Trubisky is looking forward to seeing a defense that isn’t as familiar with the Bears’ offense. Because this defense seems to be a step ahead.

“They’re no dummies,” Trubisky said. “They’re a really smart defense. They pick up on a lot of our calls and our routes and some of the adjustments, especially the DBs — Kyle [Fuller] and Prince, they’re really smart and they know it’s coming sometimes.

“So we just have to be that much better, and I think that’s helped us stay on top of our game. Once they pick up on something, we have to change it, so they can’t keep jumping it or staying on top of it. So I think that helps us evolve and get better as an offense.”