Maybe Matt Nagy finally has found the secret to success with Mitch Trubisky — keep the quarterback happy.
After trying to tailor the quarterback for his offense, Nagy instead has started tailoring the offense for his quarterback since Trubisky replaced Nick Foles against the Packers in Week 12 after a seven-game benching.
Running more up-tempo plays, moving the pocket with bootlegs and rollouts, utilizing rookie tight end Cole Kmet in the passing game and running back David Montgomery as a dual threat — are all elements that have sparked Trubisky’s resurgence. The former No. 2 overall draft pick has posted ratings of 108.3 against the Lions and 126.7 in a 36-7 rout of the Texans — with four touchdown passes and no interceptions.
“I do feel comfortable,” Trubisky said. “After getting benched and being able to go back in, this is just some of the things I’ve been asking for. I feel like they are strengths of mine and also strengths of this offense.
“I just thought it was a good idea to get Cole more involved, to get David more involved, to get A-Rob [wide receiver Allen Robinson] more involved. You just gotta get the ball to your playmakers in space and stretch the field horizontally and vertically but also keeping the defense off-balance, and I think the change in tempo really helps this offense. I think moving the pocket really helps me and helps our offensive line and also helps create run lanes.
“So these are things I’m very comfortable with, things I’ve been asking for, and I think everyone’s buying into it, and I think we’re starting to build an identity and we just need to keep getting better and better. When we play 11 guys as one and we’re playing as a unity and we’re executing, that’s when the good plays will continue to happen.”
Trubisky chuckled when asked why it’s taken Nagy so long to figure this out or how different the Bears’ season might have been had the current dynamic been in place from the start.
“Yeah, that’s a good question. I guess you never know,” Trubisky said. “I was asking. I was putting in my input. But you can’t change the past, so we are where we are now, and the offense is progressing over the last few weeks, and all we can do is try to stay on this path that we are on now and keep getting better.
“Can’t change the past. I can’t put myself back in the game a couple weeks ago or anything like that. It’s got to continue with this constant communication, having the open dialogue and always doing what is best for the Bears’ offense.”
The newfangled offensive game plan has brought out the best in Trubisky — albeit against defenses that rank 29th and 31st in the NFL. He certainly looked to be in a better comfort zone than in the first three games of the season, when he was dogged by inconsistency.
But not all the changes Trubisky asked for were like flipping a switch. The offensive dynamic has changed since Week 1. Nagy handed play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. The offensive line has been revamped because of injuries and performance. And Kmet no longer is a green rookie.
And while moving the pocket seems like a natural tack for a quarterback with Trubisky’s mobility, it has taken time for Nagy to work it into the offense.
“It’s been key — that’s obvious,” Nagy said. “When you have somebody like Mitchell that can extend plays with his legs — and with the background that I came from in Kansas City and some of the things we did, there wasn’t as much of that. It takes some time. It doesn’t just happen overnight.”
It remains to be seen if Trubisky — and the offense — can sustain their current success. But the Bears have one thing going for them — a quarterback who is in a groove.
“What gives me confidence is I’ve felt the offense getting better each week — in practice and also that translates to the game,” Trubisky said. “It comes down to in practice making sure we’re focused every day on the execution. Guys are buying into the plan and locked in mentally and doing our jobs. And when we get to Sunday, make sure we’re executing.
“But I think it’s been working, and I think we’ve been progressing, and we just [have to] make sure we’re stay trending that way.”