Joniak's Journal: Trubisky Impresses Against Broncos

"Two good days," coach Matt Nagy says. "That's what his expectations are."

August 16, 2018 - 6:38 pm
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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (WBBM Newsradio) -- The Bears held the second of their two joint practices with the Broncos on Thursday afternoon. The teams will play in Denver on Saturday night. Here were the notes and observations of the day.

First impression

Second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky arguably benefited more than other Bears player from the joint practice sessions -- and by extension, so did the whole offense.

"It was good," Trubisky said. "It was good competition and really for this whole offense, it was good for me to see different looks, go out there and try to operate at the line of scrimmage getting in and out of the huddle. I think our offense took a step forward these past few days. It was good to come out here, compete, see a bunch of different looks and just get after it on offense and hopefully it just carries over into the preseason game."

Trubisky’s tight ends flourished against the Broncos defense over the two-day period. The growing chemistry with receiver Allen Robinson and tight end Trey Burton is giving the offense some juice. 

"Arrow up," Bears coach Matt Nagy said. "It wasn't one good day, one bad day. It was two good days. That's what his expectations are. That's what he knows that we want. He's done that, and we're not gonna stop him."

Trubisky ended practice inside the 10-yard line with a touchdown to Kevin White on a post pattern, a two-point conversion to Robinson on a 50-50 ball and catches by rookies Javon Wims and Anthony Miller in the end zone for points. 

"Our precision with some of the routes that we had, when you start seeing different coverages and different defenses, you start to see how our guys react to those specific routes," Nagy said. "They got better. They definitely got better. And same with our defense, too. Our defense is always seeing the same plays from us in training camp, and I thought they reacted well. All we can do is just continue to keep growing with that."

Second thought

Tempers flared and punches were thrown during a special team period focused on two-on-one blocking to prevent a gunner from getting up the sideline. Miller had his helmet ripped off by Broncos defensive back Brendan Langley, and punches were thrown. Miller was hot about it. 

A man who likes to take control, Nagy took Miller aside and calmed him down. A snap or two later, there was another dust-up, and Nagy pulled the teams together and let them know enough was enough.

"We're all, you know, men, and we're all brothers in this thing and so as competitive and ah, as much of an ego as you want to have and try to fight somebody, it's not worth it," Nagy said. "You know there's injuries, and it just doesn't make sense. So I think the best way to handle it is just bring everybody together and just tell them that, right? And just let them know that, 'Hey we're here to play football, not to fight.' And they responded well to that.

"These guys are in this league for a reason, because they're the ultimate competitors and sometimes that comes out. But that's our job as coaches to control it."

The lesson was learned. In a game, that can't happen.

Third degree

My WBBM broadcast partner and 10-year veteran Bears guard Tom Thayer has been talking for weeks about centers around the league having issues snapping the ball. Some struggle when the quarterback is under center, others are inaccurate with shotgun snaps. 

It’s happening with the Bears right now. Every center is having some difficulty. Cody Whitehair is the starter, so he’s attracting the most attention.

"It’s tough,” Whitehair said. "Obviously if you don’t get the ball to the quarterback, the whole play is messed up. It’s something that I’m trying to move past and go to the next play, but it is in the back of my head. I care so much that I have to let it go. At the end of the day, it's something I’m working on."

Hroniss Grasu and rookie James Daniels are also having some issues snapping. 

"The quarterback's back there, if you're in the shotgun, he needs to get that football coming to him and it can't be two inches from the ground and it can't be three feet above his head because what that does is it immediately takes him off his progression or off the handoff that he might give to the back," Nagy said. "So you want those to be darn near perfect, 98 percent of the time if not near 100. Yeah, there are some struggles right now, but we're going to stay positive with it. Let me tell you something, it's not just one guy. It's not just one guy."

Whitehair admitted to have some of these snapping issues last season as well and that it is both a mental and physical problem. The Bears trust that it will be fixed with the proper technique and less thinking about everything involved with the new offense.

Fourth-and-short

Future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning watched practice, while Broncos president of football operations and Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway had compliments for Trubisky.

"I liked Mitch coming out," Elway said. "I think he’s a young guy that I’m sure that he’s in his second camp, and things are a little bit more clear in the second camp, having a good feel for having played as much as he played last year and going through his first year. I think that Mitch has got a lot of talent. I think that he’s got a chance to have a real successful career, and I think they continue to make strides. It’s always hard, and then they’re going through another offense, he’s put in a new offensive system that he’s got to get used to too. Physically, he’s got all the tools."

In a roster transaction, the Bears signed long snapper Tanner Carew, who played under Bears offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich at Oregon.  

Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.