A Better Fit for Bears Offense?

Andy Dalton doesn't have Mitchell Trubisky's mobility but Bears coach Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace found enough they liked better to make the signing and also promote the "red rifle" over  Nick Foles
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Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy see a better fit for Andy Dalton with the Bears offense than they had with Mitchell Trubisky.

It just took three years of Trubisky in Nagy's offense to ascertain an ill fit and no one is willing to explain right now what went wrong with the second pick of the 2017 draft that can be better with a 33-year-old pocket passer.

When the Bears GM and head coach spoke Friday for the first time since two weeks before free agency, the one topic neither wanted to approach was what went wrong with Mitchell Trubisky. A close second was why Andy Dalton gets to be starting quarterback without facing a challenge from Nick Foles, the way Trubisky did last year.

"There's a lot of factors and there's multiple people involved in that, and at the end of the day, we wanted to get better in different areas of our team, and that's one of the areas of our team where we feel like we’re improving," Pace said about quarterback.

What Pace was a little more specific about was what he likes about Dalton's game.

"With Dalton, the things we like as you look at it, obviously his experience—he's a nine-year starter, he's been to three Pro Bowls, a lot of leadership with Andy Dalton, decision-making, his decision-making, he's won a lot of games in this league," Pace said. "Andy's been a durable player, too. I think that's something that's understated.

"And I think, really, Andy fits our style of offense. When you go through it with our scouts and coaches, he can handle the drop-back game, he can handle the RPOs, the play actions, the movements. And we just felt, as we went through those free-agent quarterbacks, he's one of the more complete quarterbacks that we evaluated in free agency, and we’re excited to have him."

Pace again did not want to get into specifics about which aspect of the offense Trubisky failed to fit but Dalton does. The smart money is on the decision-making aspect as well as an idea Dalton expressed in his press conference earlier this month.

"Offensively, I think we want to be multiple," Dalton said then. "We don't want to have just one identity of this is what we're going to do. We want to be able to change tempos, we want to be able to spread people out, but also going to dense formations and do different things. I think just the versatility that we want to bring offensively gives you the advantage, from shift and motion to all the different things that go along with playing offense."

Trubisky could move but had trouble reading the entire field and making decisions. Dalton isn't exactly a quarterback who moves well, but can do enough to handle the bootleg style of they go this way at times. His strength is reading the field from the shotgun.

The Bears also see it as a benefit that their offensive coordinator and quarterback have worked together in the past. Coordinator Bill Lazor was Dalton's quarterbacks coach in 2016 and offensive coordinator in 2017-18 in Cincinnati.

"Well every team, every quarterbacks, every situation is a little bit different and I know when you talk about fit there is a lot of different things that go into it and I know that we all without getting into specifics, meaning what Ryan's talking about that's something that we keep to ourselves as to what we like," Nagy said. "We're not going to sit here and talk about the weaknesses of a specific player and so we know what the strengths and weaknesses are of every player on our team and so when we talk about fit I think probably some of that goes to schematically.

"Some of the things that Andy has done in his career in his 10 years in the league that fits schematically some of the stuff that we ave done here in the past three years, right? Some things will be a little bit different. There's going to be some things that Andy likes that Mitch and Nick hated, and vice versa. But we're going to work together to figure out what that is.

"So, you know, as a personnel department, as Ryan as the GM, myself as the head coach ad a coaching staff, when we collectively came together and said, hey, when you go through free agency and you look at everybody that's available, it was really a consensus for us to get Andy in here and move forward as the starting quarterback."

Pace called "fit" also the reason Dalton rates a spot as starter immediately, while Foles has to be a backup a year after he had the chance to battle Trubisky to be starter.

"I just think when you go through it again, the fit with the offense, the leadership he provides, his decision-making, really when you look back over the years, I thought this year, over the last five years, this was Andy's best completion percentage, over the last five seasons," Pace said. "So again, we have background with him also as you go through it, and I just think he's a good fit for our offense. So I would say just fit."

Dalton's completion percentage with Dallas last year was 64.9%, the second best of his career and best since 2015. For his career, Dalton completed 62.2% and Trubisky has completed 64%.

Choosing instead to keep Trubisky bashing to a minimum or indirectly, Pace cited the strengths of the team's former starter.

"As I look back, Mitch battled for this team," said Pace, who traded away the third pick in the draft and three other picks to select Trubisky in 2017. "A lot of our ability to be in the playoffs two out of the last three years is a credit to him, and I think he sacrificed a lot for this team.

"We wish him nothing but the best and now we're looking forward."

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