Operating a new scheme with several new players, the Bears offense has lagged behind an experienced defense this offseason. But the two units both excelled Tuesday.
"Both sides really did well today," coach Matt Nagy said as the Bears kicked off their three-day minicamp at Halas Hall. "Especially offensively today, it was nice to see."
The Bears are installing a new system on offense, led by Nagy and first-year coordinator Mark Helfrich. New players on that side of the ball include receivers Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and Bennie Fowler; and tight end Trey Burton.
"We talked about the development of this offense and starting with the foundation of what we gave them April 3 when they first got here [for the start of the offseason program], and then the last few weeks here in Phase III, we've thrown a lot at them," Nagy said.
"The biggest challenge and question mark was to see today were they going to be able to get back to basics and play fast. I was really happy with how they answered the questions we had going into this first day of minicamp.
"The defense has been playing well throughout and we know what they can do. But I was proud of the guys on offense for being able to play fast and do some of the special things we do to each formation, each play. That was fun, that was neat."
Installing the offense had been a methodical process that began nine weeks ago when the Bears kicked off their offseason program, which concludes with this week's minicamp.
"They had to understand the structure of this offense and they didn't know that coming into it," Nagy said. "We had to lay the foundation, and we did that. Then we just loaded them up with a bunch of stuff just to see what sticks and see what's too much for them so we can have this gauge when we get into the season as to what we can and can't do—in particular No. 10 (quarterback Mitchell Trubisky) and seeing what he can balance.
"We pulled back today for the whole offense and we played fast and you saw completions out there, and that's what it's all about. We're growing, [Trubisky's] growing, the offense is growing The defense, they challenge us every day. [Defensive coordinator] Vic [Fangio] is throwing a lot of different stuff at the offense. It's only doing good things for the offense."
Members of the Bears defense have been impressed with the offense, especially the unit's speed.
"It's faster," said veteran defensive end Akiem Hicks. "Overall it's just blazing. Everybody's catching [passes] and everybody on the offensive side, they just look a little bit fresher and a little bit quicker and more likely to make a play. And then the offense, there are so many dang moving parts, it gives us fits in practice."
"I know they have a lot of fast dudes," added defensive end Aaron Lynch, who signed with the Bears as a free agent in March. "Mitch is out there slinging it. Tarik [Cohen] looks great. [Jordan] Howard looks great. The offense looks like they're going to score a lot of points. It's going to be hard to attack one guy because you have four or five guys that can all make plays, that can all do the same thing. It's going to be hard for opposing defenses to keep up with our offense."