Mitchell Trubisky will always be scrutinized.
As the third-year quarterback faces one of the league's top defenses every day in practice, expectations mount for him to match, if not exceed, his Pro Bowl season in 2018. However, coach Matt Nagy insists that he will not put Trubisky under the microscope.
"When you do that," said Nagy, "you're going to beat your head into the ground. You can't do that. We have a big picture. There's going to be some balls in here; there's interceptions. I said it last year. We don't get frustrated over that."
Trubisky was mostly upbeat after a practice where players felt "a little sluggish," according to Nagy. Trubisky told reporters that he appreciates the challenge of facing the various looks of defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano's system.
"It's awesome to be exposed to those situations," said Trubisky, "and we're seeing a lot of different stuff from our defense. It's just great situational work, and I think we're getting smarter as an offense—able to play through situations and continue to work through our mistakes and get on the same page."
While the Bears preseason games will start on Thursday, it is doubtful that Trubisky will see much action until the start of the regular season in September. Still, he believes that it will be advantageous to watch his backups, Chase Daniel and Tyler Bray, in game situations.
"Mental reps," said Trubisky. "You can always learn from other people, especially Chase and Tyler. They taught me a lot over the span of last year going into this year and we stick together. Just continue to have my head in the game and take mental reps and just go through the situational play and progressions and where I would go with the ball and what they're seeing."
Quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone, who is a holdover from the previous coaching staff, said that Trubisky has grown immeasurably from the rookie he coached in 2017.
"It's the mental part of this game," said Ragone. "It's being around this league for a while now and seeing different quarterbacks. It's the ability to take it from the classroom to the pre-snap, and how quickly you can do that, in terms of command, conviction and overall presence. I feel that's all trending in the right direction."
While honing his passing skills has been and will be a years-long process for Trubisky, Ragone seeks to focus on little aspects of improvement.
"For us," said Ragone, "it's easy to insulate ourselves and say, 'Look, man, let's just break this down to a really simple basis: Are we getting better on things that we're asking each practice?'"
Ragone puts those things into three distinct areas for Trubisky: pre-snap recognition of defenses, the ability to extend plays through his legs and decision-making, and confidence in his timing and footwork.
Ragone and Nagy have encouraged Trubisky to take risks throughout camp to test the possibilities against a first-rate defense.
"[Nagy] allows you to go out there to test some throws," said Ragone, "see what you can get away with. We're constantly pushing that mentality."
Nagy sees 7-on-7 drills as the ideal time to take those risks, in part because of the built-in advantage it gives the defense.
"There's no threat of the run," said Nagy, "so you're allowed to play a little bit deeper in coverage and know that we're going to throw it, so we force some balls in there. But I think reigning him back in once the season comes to just taking what they give you, always with that mentality of trying to go deep when we can."
Nagy and Ragone, both former quarterbacks, acknowledged the scrutiny that comes with the position. However, they feel that their team culture will keep Trubisky grounded as the season wears on.
"In the quarterback room," said Ragone, "it's really simple. Did you get better, or did you get worse from yesterday to today?"