ENGLEWOOD – The main focus of traveling to Denver for two days of joint practices for Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy was to test his club against another NFL team.
After Thursday’s second day of work, Nagy declared mission accomplished.
He started his analysis with praise for his young quarterback, Mitch Trubisky.
“Arrow up,” 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 going to stop him.”
Not satisfied that some of Nagy’s praise was obligatory, however, a second “expert” opinion on what Trubisky showed in Denver was sought.
Does Hall of Fame quarterback and Broncos Executive Vice President John Elway work for you?
“I liked Mitch coming out,” Elway said. “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.
“Physically, he’s got all the tools.”
Elway’s stamp of approval has to make Trubisky feel good and should be particularly pleasant for Bears fans.
How does Trubisky feel about his stay in Denver so far?
“Yeah, it was good,” he 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.”
It’s hard to argue with any of Nagy’s, Elway’s or Trubisky’s observations, but the development of this new Bears offense is about more than the quarterback.
A huge focus of the Bears’ offseason has been on upgrading Trubisky’s weapons, and in Nagy’s new offense, the tight ends are critical.
Nagy liked what he saw there in Denver, too.
“I was happy with their performance,” he said. “They’re doing a good job right now of matching up their timing with [Trubisky].
“We didn’t do any live the last two days, so it’s hard to tell exactly where they’d be in their blocking assignments, but we’re trying to really focus in on that, too.”
One position where the Bears have struggled recently is at center, and the work in Denver wasn’t much better.
“I guess you’re referring to the actual snap, right, coming back?” Nagy said. “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 2 inches from the ground, and it can’t be
3 feet above his head because what that does is it immediately takes him off his progression.
“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.”
Cody Whitehair was a little better Thursday after an awful day Wednesday, and clearly Nagy and his staff are concerned.
The Bears’ handling of Whitehair and rookie James Daniels has puzzled analysts ever since the draft, and Whitehair still was not himself in Denver while Daniels continues to be a promising prospect who just isn’t ready to play center or guard at the next level.
The only good news for Whitehair in Denver is Trubisky certainly has his back.
“I’m not worried about Cody one bit. He’s a heck of a player. I love having him on the O-line and (as) our center.”
Trubisky continues to grow in the leadership column, too.
Overall, will the Bears leave Denver in a good place?
Nagy will get one honeymoon season in terms of wins and losses, but the growth of his offense will have to be significant almost immediately.
That group’s work against the Broncos’ 2017 top-five defense the past two days did suggest that growth is underway and continuing.