When quarterback Mitchell Trubisky steps on the practice field next week in Bourbonnais, the 2017 first-round pick will look to pick up where he left off during offseason workouts.
In his second year in the system, Trubisky showed a deeper understanding of the offense during OTA and minicamp practices. The increased familiarity enabled him to make pre-snap changes based on what he saw from the defense—something he wasn’t always able to do last year when he was still digesting the offense.
“There are adjustments that he makes that we don’t have to tell him, ‘Hey, do this,’” coach Matt Nagy said during OTAs. “He just does it naturally.”
“It is literally night-and-day in all the right ways,” added offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich. “Our standard for him is extremely high. But just as far as the operation of not only what he’s supposed to do, what the defense is doing, manipulating protections, just the air about him is way different and everybody has noted that, observed that in various ways. Therefore, people around him are playing better and that helps too.”
Last year Trubisky was not only operating the offense for the first time but also working with receivers Allen Robinson II, Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller and tight end Trey Burton for the first time. Entering Year 2 together, the group has developed cohesiveness and a strong bond on and off the field.
That should help Trubisky perform even better than he did last season when he became the first Bears quarterback to be named to the Pro Bowl since Jim McMahon in 1985. In leading the Bears to their first NFC North title since 2010, Trubisky threw for 3,223 yards with 24 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a 95.4 passer rating. He also rushed for 421 yards and three TDs on 68 carries.
Trubisky became the first Bears quarterback to post a passer rating of at least 120.0 in four games in a season and tied the franchise record with four 300-yard performances. He also set a Bears postseason record with 303 yards in a wild-card loss to the Eagles.
Understanding the “whys” of the playbook as Nagy likes to say should help Trubisky be an even more efficient quarterback in 2019.
“That gives you confidence as a player because when you know where to go with the football, you can kind of control the defense more with your eyes and rhythm and anticipate throws as opposed to reacting to throws,” Trubisky said last month during minicamp. “That’s something that I’ve been working on. It’s given me a lot of confidence, and just my guys believing in me gives me the most confidence.”
The Bears have put Trubisky in position to succeed by surrounding him with playmakers. The receiving corps during the quarterback’s rookie season in 2017 consisted of Joshua Bellamy, Deonte Thompson, Markus Wheaton, Kevin White and Kendall Wright. It’s now comprised of Robinson, Gabriel, Miller, Riley Ridley, Cordarrelle Patterson and Javon Wims.
Daniel started two games last year when Trubisky was sidelined with a right shoulder injury. The veteran backup passed for 230 yards and two touchdowns in a 23-16 win over the Lions Thanksgiving Day in Detroit and threw for 285 yards with one TD and two interceptions in a 30-27 overtime road loss to the Giants.
Bray spent most of last season on the Bears practice squad, but he was elevated to the active roster and served as Daniel’s backup in the two games that Trubisky missed.