New Bears offensive coordinator Bill Lazor discussed the open competition at quarterback, the jump running back David Montgomery is expected to make in his second NFL season and more Wednesday during a video call with the media.
Here are five highlights from the Zoom session, which lasted nearly 30 minutes:
(1) Lazor is excited about the competition for the starting quarterback position between Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles that will begin when the Bears start training camp. But he isn't predicting who will win the battle.
"I don't know if it sounds like a cliché, but you just have to let the thing play out," Lazor said. "You've got to let guys earn it. Sometimes your gut tells you, sometimes it helps to look at the statistics every day—though it's not a game situation but a practice—and you just take in all the information."
Lazor told reporters about when he worked for a coach who had won "numerous Super Bowls" on a team that was conducting a competition for its backup quarterback position. (Lazor didn't name names, but the Redskins' Joe Gibbs is the only head coach he's worked for who has won multiple Super Bowls.)
"I just remember after one of the preseason games, he came to me and said, 'When that guy went in the huddle, I just watched how the team changed,'" Lazor said. "So there's so many different factors that go into it. Some of it is real statistical and some of it is watching a guy and how he presents himself, and hopefully we have plenty of preseason games because I think that's the most fair way for the guys, is to let them play on the game field. So hopefully they get an opportunity to do that."
The Bears are scheduled to play four preseason games, but there have been rumors that two of the contests could be cancelled due to the coronavirus.
(2) Lazor sees a lot of potential in Trubisky and will give the fourth-year pro a clean slate as they begin their first season together.
"Everything is open as far as what is going to happen next and 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 kind of agreed to look at it. And that's a great thing about football; it's up to you.
"I think he's got a lot of great football ahead of him … Once he gets in there [to Halas Hall] and gets going, let's let him determine the story. I'm not going to sit back and talk about his past. I'm going to let Mitch determine the story. He and I have kind of come to that agreement, and I think it's the right way to approach it. But his attitude has been fantastic. I can evaluate that. His communication skills are fantastic. I just look forward with all these guys being face-to-face."
Lazor first met Trubisky about 10 years ago—when the Bears offensive coordinator was a Virginia assistant coach and made a recruiting trip to Mentor High School in Ohio to see the young quarterback. A decade later, Lazor will work with coach Matt Nagy, quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo and passing game coordinator Dave Ragone to try to get the most out of Trubisky.
"We've got a group of guys that are just passionate about it," Lazor said. "Our job is to give him every opportunity to be the best he can possibly be, and if at the end of the day, at the end of the year, he looks at me and says, 'Coach, you helped me become better than I ever thought I could be,' then I'll be fulfilled."
(3) Lazor discussed reuniting with Foles, whom the Bears acquired in March via a trade with the Jaguars in exchange for a compensatory fourth-round draft pick.
As Eagles quarterbacks coach in 2013, Lazor helped Foles have a breakout second NFL season—after Foles had lost a training camp competition with Michael Vick for the starting job.
When Vick suffered a hamstring injury in a Week 5 win over the Giants, Foles replaced him and then started 10 of Philadelphia's final 11 games. He led the Eagles to the NFC East title with a 10-6 record, passing for 2,891 yards with 27 touchdowns, two interceptions and a league-leading 119.2 passer rating.
"I watched him persevere," Lazor said. "I watched him grow even through the course of the offseason as a young player but then through camp as he was battling for the job through the preseason. When he finally got a chance to play in regular-season games, I saw the jump that he had made from preseason play to 4-5 weeks later when he got in. I just saw constant development.
"I thought he had a fantastic year statistically and led us to a whole lot of victories. I saw him grow as a teammate."
(4) Lazor enjoyed working with Montgomery during the virtual offseason program and is eager to get the second-year back from Iowa State on the practice field.
"I have a really good friend who coached at Iowa State," Lazor said. "I have gotten probably as good a recommendation for David as a person as you could possibly receive, and nothing that I've seen has shown it to be counter to that so far."
After being selected by the Bears in the third round of last year's draft, Montgomery rushed for 889 yards and six touchdowns on 242 carries and caught 25 passes for 185 yards and one TD in 2019. His 889 yards ranked 19th in the NFL and were second among rookies, behind Raiders first-round pick Josh Jacobs' 1,150 yards.
"I think for a young guy to come in and play as well as he did is not easy, so that's an impressive feat," Lazor said. "And everything he's said now tells you that he's serious about what that jump is going to be from Year 1 to Year 2, which we've all seen young players make.
"I'm excited about it. I'm excited to see how he works on the practice field and his level of detail. That's a thing that oftentimes for those second-year players, now that they've kind of got their feet on solid ground with some of just the small things of the atmosphere they're in, now they can really turn it to those details. And so I'm excited on the practice field to see how he attacks that."
(5) Lazor stressed the importance of being multi-dimensional on offense.
"This year in the NFL, even if we didn't have a pandemic, with your roster size you have to have a certain level of multiplicity in your offense," he said. "Because one week if your tight ends are injured, you're down to one and you have to go out and get someone off the street, you've got to be able to adjust your game-plan that week. Maybe it's more towards the receivers. If you have a fullback on your roster—some NFL teams do and some don't these days—you've got to decide, 'Hey, if this guy's active on game day as a great special-teams player, are we not going to utilize him at all on offense or are we going to?
"Or the matchups. You might be playing a defense and say, 'Man, when they're in base defense, we will be lucky to run it a yard. So we have to get this team into nickel defense. So this week we want to use more receivers.' Now do you change your offense? No. You build an offensive system that allows you to have multiplicity, but still run the same concepts and speak the same language."