Future optimism brings a new group of playmakers to the Bears’ offense
LAKE FOREST – He’s either sat or stood in the same news conference room at Halas Hall four times since 2015 on a day similar to this one.
It’s when Ryan Pace introduces some of the new members of the Bears to the gathered media. Some of these guys pan out while others frankly don’t. That’s the game of roulette general managers in the NFL play when going out into the free agent market.
Thursday was really no different when Pace stepped to the podium. He doesn’t know if these five players signed early in 2018 free agency are going to pan out, it’s always a mystery no matter how sure someone is with a player.
Just one thing was different – the general manager was introducing five new players to a team which is now appealing to those seeking a change of scenery. From a head coach to and exciting offense to a young franchise quarterback, finally the grass is greener in Lake Forest.
“It’s a good feeling when you know players want to be here, you can feel that,” said Pace. “It starts with our staff and Matt Nagy, the City of Chicago. There was a different vibe this year.”
Before one dismisses this as easy spin, it’s fair to hear the ways in which a few of the free agents were quite optimistic about what’s ahead for the franchise. Allen Robinson was pursued by a few teams for his services and was one of the best receivers on the market in 2018, but the idea of working in Nagy’s offense that brought success in Kansas City was a deal maker.
“The versatility of it,” said Robinson when asked what he like about Nagy’s offense, which ranked fifth in total yards and sixth in points in 2017. “You see a lot of big plays, you see some ‘Dink and Dunk’ plays, you see everyone being involved. It’s something that just looked fun to play in.
“With me, again, just watching in Kansas City, the had success on offense, that’s the big thing.”
Taylor Gabriel certainly has paid attention to how Nagy’s offense helped versatile players like himself during the 2017 season. Tyreek Hill caught 75 passes for 1,183 yards and seven touchdowns while Kareem Hunt rushed for 1,327 yards and caught 53 passes with 11 total touchdowns, each players with similar athleticism as Gabriel.
Naturally it’s the reason he joined the Bears after two years in Atlanta.
“Nagy’s offense,” was the first thing Gabriel said when asked why he chose the Bears. “Just his creativity, and the things he did when he was with the Chiefs. I feel like for me it was a no brainer. Coming from Tyreek Hill, things that he did with him and moving him around, and getting him open, it was no brainer for me.”
It might have been the same for Trey Burton, who inked a four-year deal to be the primary tight end in Nagy’s offense. Travis Kelce caught 83 passes in the system in 2017, and having played in a similar offense in Philadelphia made the Bears an easy choice.
“Huge influence,” said Burton of Nagy’s offense being a factor in his decision to sign with the Bears. “That, the history and tradition of Chicago, and, also, I don’t have to learn a new offense. I basically know the whole thing, a couple things here and there that they did in Kansas City that we did different in Philadelphia, but 95 percent of the playbook I already know, and that’s huge from a player’s standpoint.”
Of course Burton hasn’t played for Nagy, but Chase Daniel has. That brought the Bears a new backup quarterback who’ll use his years of experience to continue the development of Trubisky in 2018.
“He’s so relatable,” said Daniel of Nagy. “He played the position of quarterback so that helps with quarterbacks. He understands it, he sees it from a different perspective than any other coach who’s not a quarterback. He’s just himself, he doesn’t try to impress anybody.”
Yet his impression on those in the league appears to have brought some much need positive vibes to Halas Hall.