Pivotal Season Requires Pivotal QB Plan

Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace go deep into how their QB plan can bring just about anyone to Chicago to solve a decades-old Bears search for a passer
Author:
Publish date:

Make no mistake: The Bears have an idea what they want to do at quarterback.

They just don't want anyone else to know what it is.

Through the course of their pre-free agency press conference, Bears coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace made it fairly clear if a player has an arm and legs they will consider him. 

If he can think quickly, as well, then he'll be near the top of the list. If he's a leader, he could lead their men.

It's as far as they'll go in revealing their plan beyond saying it's a flexible approach dependent upon who is or becomes available.

"So, I think we're ready to kind of pivot a number of ways," Pace said. "I think that's going to be important this offseason—especially this offseason."

They've already been at it with the Carson Wentz trade situation. Now sitting out there within a phone call is a veteran quarterback Nagy reveres, Alex Smith. The possibility of deals for standout veterans like Russell Wilson or Deshaun Watson exists, though more a wish than a probablility at the moment. 

Then there is the draft.

And there's always Mitchell Trubisky. Nagy went out of his way again to offer up praise for the team's failed 2017 first-round pick after he replaced Nick Foles and led last year's late run to the playoffs.

"Now, you start with the quarterback position and for us, there's a lot of different ways we can go right now," Nagy said. "Whether it's with Mitchell, whether it's with Nick, if it's with somebody outside. And there's a lot of different ways it could go."

The Requirements

Nagy put forth his prerequisites for the position and provided only slightly better insight.

It's been thought he desired a quarterback who could run, which might preclude Alabama quarterback Mac Jones in the draft. Analysts of the draft have placed Jones somewhere between a large tourtise and Bob Avellini on the statue scale, although the actual eye test says he has enough maneuverability to lead a team to a national title by escaping the pocket when required.

"You don't have to be running all over the field, but have some movement," Nagy said. "Great. If you don't, we'll work around that."

Now that's nailing it down.

They got by without it last year in seven starts with Foles, who can move fairly well  straight ahead but possesses the plyability of wood. Labeling Foles a passer who can run laterally more than two steps or throw off balance and on the move, stretches the imagination to a breaking point.

Still, they consider Foles part of the plan for 2020 because they have to do this. He's the only certainty in this entire equation and they feel he can play at a higher level with more system and team familiarity.

"For him and understanding his role with us, he's under contract," Nagy said. "And I think one of the best things we do is we talk through the 'whys' all the time, and every year is different. That's why 2021 is going to be different for all of us."

Beyond being able to move or not move, the quarterback must be able to make snap and proper judgment, although they've looked the other way on that for three years.

"It's when you make those decisions, I think, situational football," Nagy said. "You all have heard me say over and over it's important with decision-making."

Trubisky often has problems with this in the red zone, so it might not be entirely critical. He threw six red-zone interceptions the last two seasons. Russell Wilson tied for the NFL lead last year with three and everyone in Chicago is frothing at the mouth over his disenchantment with Seattle.

Because neither Nagy nor Pace would eliminate Trubisky from the list, you have to wonder how important this is.

Finally, there is leadership.

"And then having the leadership skills, and when I say that every quarterback leads in different ways," Nagy said. "I was around a guy with Alex Smith where he was a happy medium. He wasn't a yeller and screamer at the guys, but he wasn't quiet. He was right down the middle.

"Every guy has their own way that they do it, but they all lead in a certain way and they multiply the players around them. I'd say leadership, decision-making and if you have some versatility as a quarterback with your legs, great. If you don’t, no problem. We can work around it."

System Fit? What System?

If you're among those looking to fit the QB to the Kansas City style of offense Nagy brought to Chicago when he came here, forget it. 

Nagy no longer goes by just the KC attack. His Bears offense used totally different concepts like outside-zone running and bootleg passing from a quarterback under center rather than the spread and shotgun like the Chiefs use. He wants a multiple approach.

"When I first got hired, you come into this thing and obviously Mitchell being our young quarterback that’s coming in, learning the system, being able to give you the dual threat that can run but also has the arm and ability to make every throw in the playbook, which he does, you start off there and you say that," Nagy said. "But then as you go through it and you start to see where your team is at with your players and their strengths that they have and how it fits, now you start kinda tweaking your offense a little bit to turn it into the Chicago Bears offense and not necessarily the Kansas City offense. 

"There’s stuff that we liked from that offense that we brought here, there’s stuff we’ve gotten away from, there’s stuff we’ve added as far as this year in 2020."

Translated: You'll find out who the quarterback is sometime between mid-March and late April, and not a moment sooner. 

So get ready to pivot.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven