As Bears target offensive minds, here’s why they must involve Mitch Trubisky
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The Bears believe Mitch Trubisky to be the flashing neon sign that will lure the coach they covet — an offensive guru who can help develop the No. 2 pick into a franchise-elevating, playoff-caliber quarterback.
That’s why, despite general manager Ryan Pace’s vague answer to the question of Trubisky’s input Monday, he must be involved in their coaching search.
The reasons go beyond using him to entice the four offensive-minded candidates they’ve requested permission to speak with, per sources — Patriots coordinator Josh McDaniels, Vikings coordinator Pat Shurmur, Chiefs coordinator Matt Nagy and Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo.
Nagy, 39, was added to the Bears’ list late Tuesday and fits the Bears’ profile. Since he took over play-calling from coach Andy Reid in early December, the playoff-bound Chiefs are 4-1 and have averaged 28.6 points.
The Bears need to know — now — whether those coaches believe in Trubisky. The coaches, in turn, must learn about Trubisky. That requires more than game footage.
McDaniels, of course, knows the downside of an arranged coach-quarterback marriage. He inherited Jay Cutler when he was hired to coach the Broncos in 2009 and immediately discussed trading for then-Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel, with whom McDaniels had worked. When Cassel went to the Chiefs instead, McDaniels met with Cutler to try to clear the air — and Cutler demanded a trade. He got his wish and became a Bear.
Shurmur’s only head-coaching job had similar quarterback uncertainty. He inherited Colt McCoy in 2011, drafted Brandon Weeden the next year and was fired at the end of 2012. He went 9-23 in two seasons with the Browns.
So fit is just as important as offensive acumen. Having done their homework on the latter, the Bears will use interviews this week — McDaniels will talk to them Friday, according to the Boston Globe — to determine the former. With their teams on a playoff bye, Shurmur and DeFilippo also must conduct interviews by the end of Sunday, per league rules. Neither Nagy nor Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks can be interviewed until next week.
One season after making the transition to the NFL, Trubisky is in line for another change. This one will define his career — and Pace’s.
“It’s a big jump from college football, and what you saw in training camp and we talked about starts with breaking an NFL huddle, taking snaps under center, changing things at the line of scrimmage, understanding NFL defenses, blitz packages, coverages,” Pace said. “And he just got better every step of the way. One trait he has is he rarely repeats the same mistake twice, starting with he doesn’t turn the ball over, and that’s an attractive trait.”
Pace believes Trubisky will be able to adapt to a different offense than the one run by coordinator Dowell Loggains, who sources said traveled to Miami on Tuesday to talk to former boss Adam Gase about a job.
“As far as changing terminology and those things, Mitch is a highly intelligent player with a very strong work ethic,” Pace said. “So I’m confident that he will adapt quickly to a new situation.”
That situation seemingly will be rooted in NFL principles. Stanford coach David Shaw again has rebuffed NFL overtures, sources said. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has said he won’t leave for the NFL. Analyst Cris Carter, a Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Ohio State wide receiver, called Harbaugh “the most overrated coach in football” after Michigan’s Outback Bowl loss to South Carolina on Monday. He considered Harbaugh rebuffing any NFL interest “great news to start 2018” for the Buckeyes.
For 2018 to be Trubisky’s year — 2017 was Mike Glennon’s, remember? — the Bears have to find the coach who fits him. And vice versa.
“I’m excited about him being the guy going into this offseason,” Pace said, “and guys kinda surrounding him, with him leading the charge.”
Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley.