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Vertical passing game a key aspect of offense


First-year head coach Matt Nagy told reporters Monday at training camp that the Bears won't hesitate to throw the ball deep down the field this season.  

"That's what we do," Nagy said. "It's important. We talk about a touchdown-to-check-down mentality. We want to go downfield and then check it down when it's not there."

The ultimate goal, of course, is to generate long touchdowns. But even if the deep throws aren't completed, just attempting them figures to loosen up opposing defenses.

"If you stay in that intermediate route all the time, it makes it easier [for the defense]," Nagy said. "It's almost like you're playing in the red zone to those DBs. You have to be able to test them. You've got to let them know that there's more yardage behind them. When you do that, now they play off and you make those run-and-catch type plays."

In Sunday's practice, starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky connected on a deep pass to receiver Kevin White, eliciting the loudest cheers from the crowd of the day.

Last season Trubisky connected on four passes of at least 40 yards: a 70-yarder to running back Tarik Cohen against the Panthers, a 46-yard touchdown to receiver Joshua Bellamy versus the Packers, a 45-yarder to receiver Tre McBride in New Orleans and a 40-yarder to running back Benny Cunningham against the Browns.

Asked about Trubisky's ability to throw long passes, Nagy said: "He's been accurate with it and his arrow is going up with the deep ball.

"We got into OTAs and there were some times that his mentality coming into this thing wasn't necessarily downfield to start. But he's done a great job of accepting that role and now we tell him, 'Hey listen, go downfield to see what you can do, see the different receivers that you're throwing to and how far you can stretch it. Let them know what kind of arm you have.' I mean he can throw it now. So he's improving and we're not going to stop doing that."

Nagy knows a thing or two about throwing the football, having played quarterback at Delaware and then for six seasons in the Arena Football League. He feels the key to throwing an accurate long pass is to keep your weight balanced and your feet set.

"Any time you do the step away and you fade away and throw off your back foot, there's times you have to do that and you need to be accurate," Nagy said. "But if you have a pocket and those guys are fighting their tails off to give you some green grass to throw, then set your feet, have your balance with your shoulders and then follow through.

"And there's techniques to that as well as far as what we teach our wide receivers and what they do to the route to help the quarterback and then what the quarterback can do with the throw."

The sun came out for the fourth day of training camp practice as the Bears hit the field at Olivet Nazarene University.