Exactly seven months after the Bears hired Matt Nagy on Jan. 8, the first-year head coach finally got to see his No. 1 quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in game action.
After keeping the first-team offense on the sideline last week in the Hall of Fame Game, Nagy ran out his probable offensive starters for two series on Thursday night in Cincinnati against the Bengals.
Trubisky — who entered his rookie season a year ago as a backup before taking over starting responsibilities in Week 5 — heads into this year as the Bears' No. 1 man behind center.
In eight plays on Thursday, Trubisky completed 2 of 4 passes for four yards and was sacked once by the Bengals defense as Cincinnati edged Chicago 30-27. Despite the numbers, Nagy won't get caught up in any stats during the preseason. Prior to the game he emphasized that the most important takeaway from Thursday would be seeing growth from his team, and he echoed that sentiment after the loss.
In the limited play time, the second-year quarterback looked comfortable in the pocket and showcased a strong arm right out of the gate.
On the first play of the game Trubisky targeted receiver Kevin White on a deep ball down the left side of the field. The pass was just out of the reach of White, but the play call showed a willingness to test Trubisky's arm and take shots down field. Nagy-coached teams have had success producing big-yardage plays in the past, and Trubisky allows him to continue his aggressive play calling.
"We're going to be aggressive all year long," Trubisky said. "Everyone's got to buy into that mentality that we're going to take shots (down field), and we just got to make them work. … We just got to connect on those, and we will. We have in practice, so we just got to keep getting better."
Two plays later, on third-and-nine, Trubisky targeted White again, spiraling a bullet across the middle of the field. But White couldn't hang on to the would-be first-down ball. The Bears caught a break, as the Bengals were flagged for roughing the passer on the play, and Trubisky got to pick up a few more reps in the first series.
Later in the drive, on another third-down play, Trubisky showed his versatility, scrambling up the middle for eight yards. The play was called back due to a penalty, but the second-year QB did show his ability to get creative when a play falls apart.
In the second offensive series, the Bears went three-and-out, ending Trubisky's night.
Thursday's performance was a different showing than his preseason debut a season ago when he completed 18 passes and strung together 10 consecutive completions in his NFL debut against Denver.
The 23-year old gunslinger vowed Thursday's offensive showing wouldn't be indicative of the Bears this season.
"I don't think we were as locked in as we should be," Trubisky said. "We definitely had our shots, but early on you definitely want to see a better start out of this offense, and that was just not the way we've been practicing and that's not what this offense is going to be this year."