Four things to watch when Bears coach Matt Nagy begins his first minicamp
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When John Fox held his first voluntary veteran minicamp three years ago, he did so with only two familiar faces still on staff — receivers coach Mike Groh and outside linebackers coach Clint Hurtt.
When Matt Nagy starts his own three-day camp Tuesday, he’ll do so with a whopping seven — including his entire defensive staff — returning.
Still, the change at Halas Hall feels even more significant than it did three years ago, as Nagy is ushering in a modern offense not seen during Fox’s tenure.
Here’s what we’ll be watching when the team begins its minicamp:
• Scouting the coach. Tuesday will offer the first glimpse into Nagy’s head coaching style. He’s never run an NFL practice, and only spent two years as an offensive coordinator with the Chiefs. Will he be like Marc Trestman, who ran from drill to drill, often to encourage his players to do the same? Or like Fox, who often delegated to his assistants?
Nagy’s ability to connect with players on the field will be on display, as will his ability to explain his offense. While he’s worked with consultant Brad Childress before, the rest of the team’s offensive coaches have never coached alongside Nagy.
Last month, general manager Ryan Pace said Nagy vowed to run a demanding training camp in Bourbonnais — “A physical camp, a tough camp, an energetic camp,” he said — but the coach will be limited by league rules this week. The minicamp will resemble the mandatory minicamp held in June, with helmets and some team work allowed.
• Mitch watch. No one expects quarterback Mitch Trubisky to learn Nagy’s offense — which combines elements of a college spread with a West Coast offense — overnight. Nagy said his athleticism and accurate throwing arm, particularly on comeback routes to the sideline and deep posts, will help him succeed.
Still, it will be more telling to see how Trubisky, who enters this season as an unquestioned leader, interacts with his teammates as they learn together.
“What Mitch Trubisky was born with was something that not a lot of people were born with,” guard Kyle Long said earlier this month. “I can’t explain it. When you’re around him, you feel it and it’s real. Quiet confidence and a sense of calm and comfortability with the situation, any situation he’s put in.”
• Health update. Long, who had surgery on his neck, shoulder and elbow during the offseason, hesitated to put a timeline on his return, only saying that he would be fine by the start of the season. Similarly, the Bears have been careful not to put a timeline on new receiver Allen Robinson, who was only able to meet with the team’s new medical staff last week as he recovers from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Like Long, Robinson said there’s no question he’ll be ready for training camp.
It would be surprising if either participated in full this week. Receiver Kevin White, who broke his shoulder blade in last year’s opener, could participate.
• Eyes on Aaron. Former 49ers outside linebacker Aaron Lynch is the team’s only projected defensive starter who didn’t play for Fangio last year. While the Bears won’t make any draft decisions based on a three-day showing — they figure to eye an outside linebacker either way — a good performance would likely calm some of their pass rushing concerns.
With Pernell McPhee, Willie Young and Lamarr Houston gone, all eyes will be on the inconsistent edge rusher.