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Bears Pay More Attention to Scramble Drill

Bears receiver Darnell Mooney thinks they're paying better attention now to scramble drills after the Matt Nagy coaching staff pretty much ignored them last year.

One of the great things about changes in coaching regimes is the revelation of dirty little secrets about the old regime.

Gradually some of the mistakes of the Matt Nagy/Ryan Pace regime have come to light over the offseason and another did on Friday at Bears camp when wide receiver Darnell Mooney revealed what's going on at practices now with extended plays.

Matt Eberflus already had said he wanted pass plays that break down or would have been sacks to continue with Justin Fields scrambling or rolling around with the ball, so the receivers get used to scrambles and throws. The old scramble drill is fairly common for teams with mobile quarterbacks.

"We definitely have you know, spoke on that multiple times, like where you need to be," Mooney said about the receiver corps. "And, like even in seven-on-seven, last year if the play broke down or something like that, it just broke down. But this year if something breaks down then the quarterback will scramble and we will all attack to go into the scramble drill.

"We weren't really doing that last year. So like in the game-wise when the play breaks down you don't really like recognize, 'oh, well, we need to scramble.' We're definitely emphasizing that a lot here now."

It seems almost negligent that with a quarterback as fast as Fields last year the Bears did not really run scramble drills or scramble offense in practice.

"We had the system but we just never worked on it," Mooney said. "You have to work on things, even though it's just like scramble drill. We'd just scramble—everybody run around.

"You have to work on it every now and again."

Mooney believes the Bears will be able to come up with some big plays because they are going with more scramble drill this year.

"Yeah, yeah for sure," he said. "It's going to be definitely, a moreso of a better reaction to it than just seeing a run-around and like, 'oh, we've got to move now.' It's just, now it's like, 'oh, he's moving, we move.' Like, it will be second-hand nature I would say."

There are some who would suggest the Bears shouldn't let Fields extend plays at practice because he needs to learn to get the ball out of his hand faster.

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While this is fine for a pocket passer, that's a different type of quarterback than Fields. He does need to get it out of his hand quicker in the pocket but part of his potential is based on his speed, mobility and his knack for throwing accurately on the run both downfield and otherwise.

Practicing this ability plenty only makes sense.

The Bears had a mobile quarterback in Mitchell Trubisky and he had the same head coach Fields had last year, but he never developed that knack for looking downfield while buying time with his feet and finding a target after plays broke down. In fact, Trubisky really struggled at this when he should have been able to do it well.

So just how much did they actually pay attention to scramble drill last year?

The answer lies within what former Packers receiver Equanimeous St. Brown said earlier in the week.

"Honestly, we haven't talked much about scramble drill," St. Brown said. "We haven't had that many opportunities at it in practice yet, but a few times it's come up.

"I think that's something we need to work on as a team is get everyone on the same page—all the wideouts and tight ends and quarterbacks on the same page with the scramble drill."

Now, St. Brown was with a Packers team that regularly used the scramble drill with Aaron Rodgers effectively in games and practiced it a lot when Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy was Packers quarterbacks coach. And St. Brown is saying the Bears haven't practiced it really at all this year much here whereas Mooney thinks the amount of time they've devoted to it has been far greater.

So what does all that really say about how much they actually paid attention to it under Nagy?

It's just another thing for Bears fans to remember when Nagy and the Chiefs come to Soldier Field for a noon kickoff to preseason Aug. 13.

BearDigest@BearsOnMaven