Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky felt comfortable in the newest version of coach Matt Nagy's offense.
The Bears leaned heavily on an under-center look rather than the shotgun formation favored by Nagy the previous two seasons. The results seemed positive, as the Bears offense came alive to score 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to win Sunday's season opener 27-23 over the Lions.
For Trubisky, it was a departure from more than a decade of experience.
"That was the most I've probably been under center in my whole career," said Trubisky. "I mean I was all shotgun in middle school through high school and then college. And then [I] learned a bunch of under center when I got to the NFL."
Trubisky played in a shotgun offense in college at North Carolina, where he completed 68 percent of his passes during his final season. He worked under center briefly as a Bears rookie, but switched back when Nagy arrived before the 2018 season.
Nagy decided to use under-center formations more this season after his offseason self-scout showed that it helped Trubisky perform when it was used last season.
"It goes into one of those deals where now this is Year 3 for us," said Nagy, "and you start looking as to what are your strengths of your players. We did some good self-scout here in the offseason. We tried to look at some different things, and you could see that going under center was something that we evaluated."
Trubisky came to the same conclusion after watching the tape.
"I just saw the more productive and explosive plays were coming from under center," said Trubisky. "A lot of times, we were in shotgun, and teams would favor the pass more. When they know [a] pass is coming, it just makes it a lot harder to find completions and get explosive plays because they're just going to sag off, play soft zone and keep everything in front."
While he has far less experience with the more traditional feel, Trubisky has gotten more familiar with the process throughout training camp and sees the benefit.
"It's just repetition," said Trubisky. "I'm very comfortable with it. I love the play-actions, the nakeds, the dropbacks from under center. I think it hides the defense even more on whether it's going to be a run or a pass."
Playing under center requires Trubisky to pay more attention to his footwork, and the extra focus seemed to have paid off with improved technique.
"I feel like my feet were a little bit more calm in the pocket," said Trubisky. "I feel my eyes were up a lot more. I wasn't looking to run as often as I was last year. I waited for the play to develop. I was happy with a couple of throws which were a different type of ball than the ball I would throw last year: more dropping in than trying to rifle it."
On Sunday, the passing game and running game complemented each other in a way rarely seen last season. The backfield trio of David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen and Cordarrelle Patterson combined for 124 yards on the ground, and the Lions were forced to take some pressure off Trubisky to compensate.
"It keeps the defense honest," said Trubisky. "I think it's another thing with it being the NFL, you can see a lot of high school and college [teams] have a lot of shotgun, but under center, [NFL] defenses are so good, you've got to do something else to keep them honest, and if you're just going gun every time, I think it makes it hard on the O-line."
Careful not to read too much into one week, Trubisky believes that the offense's look should continue to develop as the season goes on. For now, he's hopeful that something has clicked in the passing game.
"Those lanes have opened up," said Trubisky. "I think it's something that has been comfortable with myself and the receivers, to time up on those certain routes that come from under center and play-action and that sort. We're just going to keep exploring it and keep getting better at it and keep finding things that fit this style of offense and fit our personnel. I think if we keep doing that, we'll keep evolving on offense."