Bears' Matt Nagy says he needs more time to evaluate if Mitchell Trubisky has become a better player

ByJeff Dickerson ESPN logo
Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy spoke in generally positive terms about quarterback Mitchell Trubisky's training camp performance to date, but Nagy said he needs more time to determine whether Trubisky became a better player in the offseason after the 2017 second overall pick finished 2019 ranked near the bottom of the league in most statistical categories.

"We don't have enough right now," Nagy said on Tuesday during a Zoom call with Chicago media. "I wish I could tell you we had enough. But there's just not enough with where we're at. We need to see more. I can't give you a fair statement or opinion with that.

"I'm excited to see some more team periods. Maybe a little more red zone, some two-minute, four-minute, situational football to truly say that. I'd ask for a little bit more time on that with him. But again, the mental side of it, decision-making, where he's going -- so far, so good. But we want to now continue to just see that get better and better to where we have 100 percent accuracy with that -- with both quarterbacks. They're both competing the right way. But I would say, realistically, we just need a little bit more time to be able to compare it to the last two years."

Trubisky and veteran Nick Foles are locked in a training camp battle for the Bears' starting quarterback job. The current plan calls for the two quarterbacks to essentially split reps at practice. On Monday, Trubisky was the first quarterback in the huddle in Chicago's 90-minute padded practice. On Tuesday, Foles opened the day working on the first team, followed by Trubisky.

"The biggest thing we're looking for right now as a coaching staff between both of those quarterbacks is tempo, in and out of the huddle," Nagy said. "Obviously, when you're going through different plays and different pre-snap motions and shifts, or not and just line up and go, there's moving parts now through the defense and so that element of new players and all that put together, we want to see the tempo in and out of the huddle at a really good speed."

Trubisky ended last year 28th in total QBR (39.4), tied for 27th in touchdown passes (17), 21st in passing yards (3,138), 32nd in yards gained per pass attempt (6.1) and 28th in traditional quarterback rating (83.0).

The Bears went 8-8 and failed to reach the playoffs.

In 2018, Nagy's first season as head coach, the Bears went 12-4 as Trubisky passed for 3,223 yards, 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and rushed for 421 yards and three touchdowns.

The 25-year-old quarterback played through a shoulder injury most of last season that required surgery in January. At the onset of the new league year, the Bears traded for Foles and later declined Trubisky's fifth-year option. All of that set the stage for Trubisky and Foles to compete for No. 1 on the depth chart; a process that Nagy said he intends to stretch out as long as possible.

For his part, Trubisky said the uncertainty surrounding his job status led him to play with an edge this summer.

"I think [me having an edge this year] is a combination of everything, just realizing this is the last year of my contract," Trubisky said on Tuesday. "Being hurt last year and not playing up to my own expectations, I think going 8-8, having a quarterback competition, and just the desire to want to go out to continue to chase greatness."

After fully recovering from the shoulder procedure, Trubisky spent a portion of the offseason working with a private quarterbacks coach and slightly tweaking certain mechanics.

"I would just say I can feel it a little bit more in my footwork," he said. "Just being ready to throw. Whether it's being able to anticipate a throw and getting it out sooner or waiting that extra second for it to develop, but still getting it out on time, if that makes sense. So either being able to adjust either earlier or later within throws, looking off safeties and just making great decisions and knowing where you can go with the football."

While Nagy still needs to see more, wide receiver/running Cordarrelle Patterson said on Tuesday that Trubisky looks like a different player thus far in camp.

"He actually looks like a whole new player this year, man," Patterson said on a Zoom call. "I just see it in his eyes. Each and every day, he's got that fire on him. That's what we need out of our quarterbacks. That competition. It brings the best out of everybody, so I'm excited.

"The way he's handling things. I feel he's been more of a leader. Last year I didn't feel like he was that guy, but this year he's taking over. He wants everybody to know that he's that guy and we can come to him when we need something. He's doing a helluva job with it."