Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears offense have experienced some growing pains in the first three games of the season, but coach Matt Nagy's confidence in the young quarterback and the scheme hasn't waned.
Positive signs Nagy saw in Sunday's 16-14 win over the Cardinals in Arizona included pinpoint throws that Trubisky made for gains of 39 yards to Allen Robinson II and 25 yards to Trey Burton, and an offense that possessed the ball for 36 minutes 21 seconds.
The unit will focus on improving in the red zone, however, after producing just one touchdown on three trips inside the Arizona 20. On the other two drives, Cody Parkey missed a 46-yard field goal attempt after Trubisky was sacked for a 15-yard loss and the Bears were forced to settle for a short field goal after having first-and-goal at the 4.
"We are getting first downs," Nagy said. "To me, when you're a quarterback in this offense and you're not going three-and-out and you're not using your punter, you know what that does? That helps your defense out because they get a breather.
"Where do we have to get better? We've got to get better in the red zone. That's where we need to improve right now. We're moving the ball and getting first downs. We're chewing up the clock, [but] we're getting stopped in the red zone and we're kicking field goals, and we need to get touchdowns."
It appeared that the Bears would score a touchdown on their first possession for the third time in as many games this season when they marched to the Atlanta 13. But on third-and-six, the Cardinals put seven players on the line of scrimmage and sent five, blitzing defensive backs Budda Baker and Bene Benwikere from each edge.
Neither player was blocked, forcing Trubisky to retreat and eventually lose 15 yards. The Bears had only their five linemen to protect the quarterback on the play after running back Tarik Cohen released into the left flat.
"In our offense, we do have several 'hots' that are built into our plays," Nagy said. "When you play good defenses—that was a good defense we faced—especially one that's aggressive, that likes to blitz, they can trick you.
"If you only have five in protection and you scat release your back, if you're not right, you're hot. In that particular case, we were hot, and they got us. They got us with the defense. So that's one right there, you go back to the sideline, you figure out why you were hot, and you want to fix that and try to get it protection-wise. But if you don't, we've got to make the throw on the play."
Trubisky's 39-yard laser beam to Robinson set up the Bears' only touchdown Sunday, Jordan Howard's 1-yard run that cut Arizona's lead to 14-10 in the third quarter. Trubisky threw deep on a handful of other plays, but failed to connect with his receivers.
"The one we hit Allen down the sideline, you feel it," Nagy said. "You get that energy, you get that momentum going. The guys feel it. It stresses a defense when you have that. We need to start connecting on those. It's great to take the opportunity of going deep. Those are great. But they're way better and they mean a lot more when you connect on them."
Nagy is confident that Trubisky will learn from his mistakes and is pleased with the progress the young quarterback has made through three games in the new offense.
"We can improve, but I'm happy with where he's at," Nagy said. "There's going to be some growing pains as we do this and it's not going to happen overnight. We're going to continue to work together and continue to keep pushing forward until this thing clicks."
Nagy has preached patience from Day 1 and continues to believe that Trubisky will produce game-changing plays.
"They're going to happen, and they're going to come," Nagy said. "I'm very eager, but he's probably more eager than me because I understand that it's a process and he sometimes doesn't. He's just very focused and driven to be absolutely perfect.
"As we go through this as an offensive staff, I'm telling you, we're taking our time here to figure it out. I know people don't understand this. It takes time, and we will get this. These guys are putting in a lot of valuable time and energy trying to learn this thing, and we are as a staff. When we figure out and we get it, it'll be fun."