Just because the Bears are searching far and wide for a kicker doesn’t mean the manhunt is occupying all of their offseason energy.
Coach Matt Nagy and quarterback Mitch Trubisky are quick to acknowledge the offense was average and insufficient last year. After all, before Cody Parkey’s double doink ended the Bears’ dream season in the wild-card round, the offense reached the end zone only once in 11 possessions against the Eagles. Six drives ended in punts.
The Bears are counting on two elements in particular to improve that in 2019: their retooled backfield and players’ experience in Nagy’s system.
In the fourth week of the offseason program, Trubisky senses momentum behind both. Having gotten to know veteran newcomer Mike Davis since the team returned to work April 15, and from doing his homework on third-round draft pick David Montgomery, Trubisky expects an added dimension in the offense with those two joining Tarik Cohen in the running backs group.
“We’ve got a three-headed monster that’s going to be able to make huge plays for this offense,” Trubisky said. “Very talented guys and pretty much handpicked by (general manager) Ryan Pace and Coach Nagy. I 100 percent believe in those guys.
“Just being around Mike and being back with Tarik, you just feel like these guys really fit this offense and are able to do the things we want them to do — running the zone scheme, making guys miss, extending plays, running guys over and catching the ball out of the backfield. That’s what we expect from David and Mike.”
In Nagy’s and Trubisky’s first year together, the Bears ranked 27th in the NFL in yards per carry, 20th in yards per play and 21st in total offense. Those disappointments ended up outweighing encouraging pockets of production, such as red-zone efficiency (tied for sixth), third-down conversion rate (11th) and time of possession (third).
For Trubisky and his teammates, this offseason is about building on those positives. He believes last year’s experiences already are helping. In the current phase of the offseason program, the offense is prohibited from practicing against the defense. But he senses a significant difference from last May in meetings and in the offense’s on-field work.
“The comfort level has gone up — with this offense, with your teammates, with your coaches,” he said. “That allows for learning and everything that’s in this offense to be accelerated. It allows us to grow that much quicker. Being together and being able to watch our own clips from last year, being able to own our mistakes (allows us to) get better and grow on what we did really well.”
Trubisky acknowledged the collective expectation among offensive players that Year 2 in Nagy’s scheme will naturally be smoother, faster and better.
“We have that experience but also that humbleness to work hard and want to correct our mistakes,” he said. “When you see the flashes from last year, that’s what excites you. But we’re humble enough to be like, OK, when it didn’t go so well, this is what we need to work on to make sure that doesn’t happen again and (make sure) we make only highlight plays after highlight plays. Be that top-five, top-three, No. 1 offense in the league. That’s our goal.”
Trubisky chatted with reporters Saturday near Wrigley Field at a promotional appearance for Gone Rogue protein chips.
The Bears advance to the third phase of the offseason program May 21. That begins 10 practices during which the offense can match up against the defense for 11-on-11 work.