Eveyone who saw that offensive performance versus the Packers on Thursday had the same observation and that was just how out of sorts and at times lost Mitch Trubisky looked Thursday night. While it does appear Trubisky is not ready to take the keys to the offense at this stage in his development which is very disappointing, Bears head coach Matt Nagy did not do Trubisky any favors. The number one thing he did not do was run the ball.
As many have pointed out and correctly I may add, many of those pass plays out of the RPO’s were run plays Trubisky pulled back and threw on. While true, Nagy could have taken the option part of it out. I think the Bears were too reliant on the RPO and a good portion of it I feel is Nagy wanted Trubisky to run plays he is most comfortable with. Clearly, he is most comfortable running plays he ran at North Carolina. Nagy will have to diversify his play calling if this offense is to take the next step and that means Trubisky will have to expand his knowledge of this offense in order to run more of the plays Nagy has in his scheme.
This means playing off of the run with play action not just RPO’s. In order to do that you have to run the ball. In this game the fix may have been as simple as linning up in heavy personnel and running at the Packers heavy dime (6 DBs) and even sometimes dollar (7 DBs) package defense. A defense the Bears were facing for more than half the game.
There was a tell too. Most of the time when Bears were running RPO they lined up a back off set to Trubisky’s right on the trips side. Now, sure that shows a tendency but I’m not necessarily going to call it predictable. I am sure there are options to defeat a defense playing to that tendency. Tendency beaters they used in Kansas City under Andy Reid. Here’s a quote from former Kansas City Wide Receiver Chris Conley that tells you this.
Former Chiefs WR and current Jaguars WR Chris Conley told me people have tried to pick his brain “countless times” this week on Mahomes. He’s been as helpful as possible, but said “You can look at Pat’s & Andy’s tendencies, but what I tell people is Andy puts in tendency beaters”
I think Trubisky has those options to use but chose wrong off of his reads. He is clearly not advanced enough in his development at this point in his career. We can all sit here and debate if Bears GM Ryan Pace chose the worst of the three options at Quarterback from the 2017 Quarterback class. At this point it’s blatantly obvious he did as Trubisky is clearly behind Patrick Mahomes and DeShaun Watson to date. However, this doesn’t mean Trubisky can’t eventually reach their level, but it’s clear he’s going to need the most development time of the three to do it if he ever does reach their level.
It also doesn’t mean that the Bears can’t win and have an efficient if not explosive offense right here and now. It just means Nagy will have to take a more direct role in it than he would like to. Ideally, you want to give your Quarterback the game plan and have him make the proper adjustments off of the plays you call. Every offense has at least one option and usually multiple options to call based on what the defense is playing. You also want your Quarterback to be able to identify defensive tendencies and exploit those. However, all is not lost if your Quarterback is not ready to do so.
Nagy knows his offense better than anyone. He now knows his personnel. Their strengths, their weaknesses. That includes Trubisky. At this point you run what he can handle. To enhance this you have to get the defense thinking and reacting off manupulation. Nothing does this more than giving them a dose of run/pass balance. Run plays off of the same looks but not with the same results. Tendency beaters.
This will have to include running the ball when you know the defense may be prepared for it. Sometimes, your offense will have to simply win mano a mano. This also means they will sometimes lose man on man and you have to accept it. Losing on a play isn’t always a bad thing. It can lead to a win later and in a very important situation. If a defense sees you run something that game that they’ve seen on tape and see again, chances are they will react the same way especially if they successfully stopped said play previously. Than you can pull the rug out from under them with a different play off that.
If you do this consistently, eventually a team will have no keys to play off of. Word will spread that you can’t rely on one look being run the same as before. You even change the option off of that play. This means defenses will be forced to play both run and pass and also have to look out for various passes or runs off of these plays. This will take the aggressiveness out of any defense if they can’t overcommit to a play with conviction and come full force.
The only way this happens is with balance. There doesn’t have to be a full 50/50 balance but a consistent balance of willingly running even if that run doesn’t gain one single yard. This will be an interesting thing to monitor as the season goes on. At this point the league knows Nagy wants to sling it. Nagy will have to show that he doesn’t have to do what he wants to do, but do what is neccessary to do. In this case, it is necessary to run the ball. Especially with the defensive unit the Bears have.