A year ago at this time, Mitchell Trubisky was beginning to learn a new offense and familiarize himself with new receivers Allen Robinson II, Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller.
Six weeks into the Bears offseason program this spring—and after two OTA practices Tuesday and Wednesday—the quarterback's comfort level with the system and his teammates is evident.
"Last year I kept talking about 101," said coach Matt Nagy. "Now, without a doubt, I can say with pure conviction we're in 202 right now. And we don't need to have a live game to see mentally where he's at with calling the plays. I mean, he's doing things in the last two days that last year at this time he wasn't even close to. So that's exciting."
After Trubisky earned his first Pro Bowl invitation last season, the Bears are hoping that his familiarity with the system will enable him to perform even better in 2019. Last year the North Carolina product completed 66.6 percent of his passes for 3,223 yards with 24 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a 95.4 passer rating.
New defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano also has been impressed with what he's seen from Trubisky, who was selected by the Bears with the second pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
"Mitch is a really good leader," Pagano said. "Mitch is a smart guy. Mitch puts a tremendous amount of time in. He's really the first guy in the building and the last to leave.
"I can just tell from an efficiency standpoint, accuracy standpoint, arm talent, he can make all the throws. He's making great decisions out here. He's getting the ball into open receivers' hands. It looks like he's real comfortable with the system right now and where he's at and only going to get better."
Huge advantage: Trubisky isn't the only one feeling more comfortable this offseason. Entering his second year as coach, Nagy believes that he understands what makes his players tick—unlike last spring when he was just getting to know them.
"The biggest thing for sure is the fact that I know every one of these players inside-out right now," Nagy said. "Last year at this time was when I was trying to learn who they are. Now I know how they react to different situations. I think that's a huge advantage for me."
Before he was able to work with players last offseason, Nagy spent a lot of time explaining his expectations to his assistant coaches.
"That gets taken for granted," Nagy said. "Where do they stand in practice? How do you teach this? What do you do here, what do you do there? And that was taking up a lot of time last year at this time. Finally now, I'm standing out here at practice in group install and I almost feel bad because I'm not saying much with our offense. It's like a car that knows how to kind of drive itself."
Fun and games: Nagy was asked for his biggest takeaways from the "Monday Funday" he orchestrated earlier this week at Halas Hall. The Bears coach rewarded his players for their hard work this offseason by replacing regular weightlifting and conditioning drills with fun activities such as an obstacle course, dodgeball tournament and pizza lunch.
"We've got a lot of non-throwers on this team, we've got a lot of coaches that can't putt and we've got some big guys over 300 pounds that can't eat saltine crackers," Nagy said. "So that's what I took away. But what was pretty neat was just the fact that everybody was so into it.
"When we did the dodgeball game, only four out of the 10 teams could make it and man the players were coming up begging me while it was going on, 'Can we have a consolation (game), can we have a buy-in, can we have something where we can get in and play?' They wanted to play so bad. But they couldn't. They weren't good enough on the obstacle course, so they've got to feel that."
TV news: The NFL has announced that in 2019 every television market will get three games during Sundays in the regular season, eliminating "single-headers."
In addition, Sunday divisional playoff games have been pushed back from 12:05 and 3:40 p.m. (CT) to 2 and 5:30 p.m., matching the kickoff times for the conference championship contests.