New Bears coaches ‘going to let Mitch determine the story’
Speaking publicly Wednesday for the first time since they were hired, Bill Lazor and John DeFilippo explained how they’re just getting to know Mitch Trubisky via the computer — be it game film or Zoom chats.
Bill Lazor might have had Mitch Trubisky’s phone number before any other coach in the NFL. As Virginia’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2010-12, he visited Mentor (Ohio) High School to recruit the quarterback.
He had little interaction with him again — short of attending the NFL Scouting Combine and visiting Halas Hall last year — until he took the Bears’ offensive coordinator job in January.
John DeFilippo studied Trubisky two years ago, preparing to interview for a Bears head-coaching job that eventually went to Matt Nagy. He didn’t cross paths with Trubisky again until he became the Bears’ quarterbacks coach five months ago.
Speaking publicly Wednesday for the first time since they were hired, both men explained how they’re just getting to know Trubisky via the computer — be it through game film or Zoom chats.
“I feel very good about the talks that Mitch and I have had about the fact that his future — and his career — is in his hands,” Lazor said. “I think that’s the way he and I have agreed to look at it. And that’s a great thing about football — it’s up to you.”
Both Lazor and DeFilippo were hired to fix Trubisky, even though the stakes are lower since the Bears declined his 2021 option in May.
“I’m not going to sit back and talk about his past,” Lazor said. “I’m going to let Mitch determine the story.”
Both coaches owe career success to Trubisky’s competition, Nick Foles. Lazor was his quarterbacks coach during Foles’ best statistical season in 2013. DeFilippo had the same job when Foles led the Eagles to a Super Bowl title two years ago, and was his offensive coordinator with the Jaguars last season.
They say that background won’t sway them in the Bears’ quarterback derby.
“This is as open of a competition as I’ve been involved with,” DeFilippo said.
Before the coronavirus shutdown, DeFilippo would bump into Trubisky at Halas Hall while the quarterback rehabbed from left shoulder surgery. It didn’t take long for him to identify something previous Bears coaches noticed: Trubisky’s intense football focus came almost at the expense of a personal life.
“I told him he needed to get away, man,” DeFilippo said. “I said, ‘Bro, you had a rough season, man. Like, from a mental standpoint, physical standpoint. You got a shoulder, so you need to rehab. But you need to go clear your mind for a few weeks.’
“There’s no doubt in my mind he’s got what it takes in terms of that lifestyle we talk about.”
Bears coaches identified offseason areas of focus for Trubisky — Nagy questioned his ability to read defenses and challenged him to master the playbook. He has worked on small details, too: DeFilippo said Trubisky’s footwork tends to degrade during the course of a game.
DeFilippo wants to make things “a little bit tighter this year,” from Trubisky’s pre-snap routine to his pass progressions. DeFilippo believes reading a defense is primarily something a player is born with, though it can be sharpened by coaching. That should scare Bears fans, who have seen Trubisky look anything but natural.
The goal, DeFilippo said, is for any quarterback to have command of himself, the offense and the team. Will Trubisky? Coaches won’t get to see him in person until late July, and then it will be a sprint to name a starter before the season starts.
Lazor called exhibition games the “most fair” way to pick a quarterback. If the NFL truncates the preseason, though, the decision will be made more on feel and less on production.
Some coaches, Lazor said, watch teammates’ reactions when a quarterback enters the huddle. Others look at practice stats. Others trust their guts.
One thing is for sure: Bears coaches will all be watching Foles and Trubisky.
“You’ve got to let guys earn it,” Lazor said.