It was rather strange a week ago when Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace said that he might have rookie Mitch Trubisky sit in on head-coaching interviews.
It didn’t happen, but the fact that Pace didn’t rule it out immediately speaks to where the franchise is right now.
The Bears have a 23-year-old quarterback with a single year of college experience and 12 NFL starts.
It’s a pretty thin resume and, yet, it’s all about Trubisky.
Expectations in 2018 will be extraordinary, and both Pace and new coach Matt Nagy didn’t do much Tuesday afternoon at Halas Hall to downplay those expectations.
While Nagy came off as polished and likable, the marriage of Pace and Nagy was more of the same holding hands and skipping rocks that we got three years ago when Pace said all of the same things about John Fox.
It’s window dressing designed to keep Bears fans away from the ledge until the games start nine months from now.
In the meantime, anything Nagy can say that will help everyone realize Trubisky has a long way to go will only help his boss and his quarterback, even while Pace wants everyone to think in Hall of Fame terms.
The hard sell that is a hallmark of George McCaskey, Ted Phillips and Pace has not helped as the Pace regime has stumbled to a 14-34 mark.
They now have a rookie head coach who will be entirely responsible for Trubisky and also calling plays, a lot to ask of the 39-year-old Nagy.
When asked if he thought the Bears could win right away, Nagy strayed from the ridiculous company optimism generally on display in Lake Forest.
“Any competitive person, which I am, you want that to happen,” Nagy said. “But we also just got done playing a 16-game season, along with a playoff game, with the Chiefs. So, a lot of focus was on that.
“For me, it’s going to be intriguing to dive into the process of learning the roster and learning who the coaching staff is.
“For us, I just think we need to stay true to it and have a plan.”
Right, so he didn’t answer the question. Smart move.
The reality is Trubisky has much to learn and took steps in the wrong direction the last couple games of the season. What he showed was the need to work on pretty much everything associated with the position.
But to be fair, it was a tough spot for the kid QB.
The Bears’ offensive line, which was neglected to begin with, was in tatters by the end of 2017.
The receiving corps was a joke, and even when receivers were open there were drops and missed throws.
There was consternation about the lack of deep throws and simplicity of the play calling, but the Bears couldn’t throw deep when Trubisky didn’t have time in the pocket, and many of the players on the field — including Trubisky — did not have full knowledge of an NFL playbook.
Now, the very raw Trubisky gets new coaches, a new coordinator, a new playbook, new terminology and new players around him.
And he hasn’t played two full seasons since high school.
“Trust is No. 1,” Nagy said. “He has to trust the quarterback coach and the quarterback coach has to trust him. That goes with the system and philosophy.
“You have to be able to be honest. The quarterback needs to know when he’s doing something wrong or how he can get better.
“The coach needs to understand when he’s not teaching something the right way and he has to be able to admit his mistakes.
“The other part would be, and this is sometimes neglected, is communication. That’s all part of honesty and trust, but you gotta communicate.
“When you fail to communicate there’s gray area, and when there’s gray area bad things happen.”
It all sounds great, of course. It’s always sunshine and lollipops on Day 1, and everyone is fired up about the new direction.
We have seen it so many times before in Lake Forest.
But none of it matters if Pace doesn’t get better at his job, if he doesn’t find Nagy better players, and if Trubisky doesn’t take steps forward.
Yup, the Bears are once again geared toward winning hearts and minds.
Winning games has been the problem.
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