Members of The Second City comedy troupe would have been impressed with the improvisational skills that Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky displayed last Sunday at Soldier Field.
On three occasions, Trubisky went off script to produce two touchdown passes and a 12-yard scramble that picked up a key first down in a 17-13 win over the New York Giants.
"It's about extending plays," coach Matt Nagy said Wednesday. "It's not easy to be able to predict an exact defense of what you think the defense is going to play every play. And so there's a lot of non-script, off-script plays that you look for, and two of his touchdowns were that."
Trubisky's first TD pass, a 28-yarder to running back David Montgomery midway through the first quarter, came when the Bears quarterback escaped the pocket and flipped the ball to Montgomery in the right flat. The running back did the rest, gliding along the sideline before cutting back across the field and racing into the end zone.
"You're starting to see teams that are spying [Trubisky] right now as a runner," Nagy said. "So what happens is that takes one element out of the rush, which means you have more time as a drop-back player. But now you've got to counter that by using your legs and make them make a move, which is what happened. He floated the ball over the top to David and David did the rest, and we had great blocking."
Trubisky's second TD pass, a 15-yarder to Darnell Mooney late in the first half, came after the quarterback had rolled to his right, gestured to Mooney and then threw back to the left corner of the end zone. The rookie receiver deftly stepped in front of a defender and hauled in the ball for his first NFL touchdown.
"They're kind of protecting the goal-line," Nagy said. "They know it's the end of the half. It was a three and-and-a-half man rush, where they kind of rushed a fourth guy late. Instead of flushing out of the pocket in a panic move and just running out of bounds, [Trubisky] extended the play and then he pointed to Mooney to strike out of there and then he gave him a chance. You see those a lot across the league, and it's nice to see. I think that's growth by [Trubisky] in having that happen."
Trubisky ad-libbed another clutch play with about five minutes remaining in the game and the Bears protecting a 17-13 lead. A screen pass was called, but it was well-covered by the Giants. So Trubisky escaped the pocket and tip-toed along the right sideline, picking up 12 yards and a first down on second-and-11.
"I was about to burn it into the dirt; not take a bad play," Trubisky said. "But as I was kind of seeing that I could stay in bounds and keep the clock running, I was going to just run and get down. And then I kind of pump-faked and everybody kind of backed off and I felt like I could go run for the first down, so I went and got it to get a new set of downs.
"It was kind of a strange play. Mostly on screens, you would like to burn that and not take a negative play or, in that situation, get as close to the line of scrimmage as possible and just get down and keep the clock running. But I was able to run."
Trubisky's improvisational skills remind Nagy of a veteran quarterback he coached from 2013-17 with the Kansas City Chiefs, veteran Alex Smith.
"I can't tell you how many third downs we got that just frustrated defensive coordinators because a play that wasn't there, and [Smith] made it with his legs," Nagy said.
"So the more of those we can get, the better. I think that's a mindset that we need to keep teaching Mitch and just reminding him, 'Hey, listen, man, your legs are a threat to these coordinators.' Trust me, I know, I hear it. They tell me in the offseason his legs scare them. So use them. Have that mindset."