Matt Nagy has been impressed with what he's seen from Robert Quinn this summer and is confident the veteran pass rusher will have a bounce-back 2021 season.
After leading the Cowboys with 11.5 sacks in 2019, Quinn was limited to a career-low 2.0 sacks last year with the Bears. But the 6-4, 245-pounder showed a familiar burst off the edge in training camp and limited preseason action, fueling optimism that he will revert to form.
"I like where he's at," Nagy said Monday at Halas Hall. "He's put together a really good offseason, with the training camp included. His mindset is great. Physically, he's in a really good spot. Schematically, with [first-year defensive coordinator] Sean [Desai], he's in a great place. Now he's just got to go do it."
The Bears are preparing to open the season Sunday night against the Rams in Los Angeles. Quinn spent his first seven NFL seasons with the Rams, reaching double digits in sacks in three straight years. He produced a career-high 19.0 sacks in 2013, earning All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors.
"This guy is a good football player," Nagy said. "He's excited to go out there and be a part of a great defense. He's done everything he can up to this point right now, and now when we strap it up on Sunday night, he's going to get some opportunities. It'll be good. I'm looking forward to it."
Sky's the limit for Johnson
Nagy's expectations are also high for second-year cornerback Jaylon Johnson.
Selected by the Bears in the second round of the 2020 draft out of Utah, Johnson was a Day 1 starter who registered 44 tackles and a team-leading 15 pass breakups despite missing the final three games with a shoulder injury.
Although two of his pass breakups resulted in interceptions by teammates Kyle Fuller and Tashaun Gipson Sr., Johnson did not pick off any passes as a rookie. He's determined to change that this season and showed excellent ball skills throughout training camp.
"His attitude has been really good," Nagy said. "He doesn't say a whole lot other than when he's out on the field maybe a little bit. We'll go back and forth. I think he's just excited to get out here his second year. The game will slow down to him a little bit. He also has taken on a little bit of a leadership role on that back end, which is great.
"He's a great kid, and he wants to get better. He puts in a lot of time after practice. I feel good about where he's at and I'm looking forward to seeing him have a great year."
Nagy discloses a comp for Dalton
In terms of preparation, Bears starting quarterback Andy Dalton reminds Nagy of another veteran passer he coached with the Chiefs.
"He's probably almost identical to the preparation of how Alex Smith was," Nagy said. "They're very similar, not just in the prep part but in the personality and how they lead in practice and on the field. We'll see how Andy is on gameday. I know how Alex was. But they're very similar in that regard; just very calm but yet competitive."
Smith's five seasons as Chiefs starting quarterback coincided with Nagy's tenure in Kansas City as quarterbacks coach (2013-15) and offensive coordinator (2016-17). During that span, Smith was voted to three Pro Bowls and led the NFL with a career-high 104.7 passer rating in 2017.
Dalton, meanwhile, joins the Bears after being selected to three Pro Bowls during 10 seasons with the Bengals (2011-19) and Cowboys (2020). Since being chosen by Cincinnati in the second round of the 2011 draft, he has made 142 career starts and passed for 33,764 yards and 218 touchdowns.
"He's played in front of 80,000 people before," Nagy said. "It's been loud. He's done that in the NFL. He's played that speed of game. He's seen these different blitzes and fronts and stunts and he's gone through a game and done different cadences and that sort of thing. That experience is huge. It's valuable. As a coach and for the teammates that we have, I think they feel that.
"Now we'll see as we get out there, but that's just what he reminds me of as a quarterback of other quarterbacks I've been with."
Take a look at each player on the Bears' 53-man active roster for the 2021 season. (Players listed alphabetically)