Chicago Bears Might Have NFL's Next Great Offense

Brent Sobleski@@brentsobleskiNFL AnalystMay 28, 2018

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy watches his team during practice at the NFL football team's training camp in Lake Forest, Ill., Wednesday, May 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

Incompetence can be overcome with the right personnel moves and system adjustments. 

The Chicago Bears suffered through a 14-34 record under John Fox's direction, but the team is poised to experience a breakthrough under new head coach Matt Nagy, mainly due to the organization's offensive potential. 

The Los Angeles Rams provided a template for success a year ago. The Rams went from having the NFL's worst scoring offense under Jeff Fisher's supervision to the league's best with head coach Sean McVay leading the way. 

But a lot of maneuvering led to that point. 

The Rams organization first had to dump an experienced and well-respected head coach in favor of an inexperienced, yet ascending offensive mind. McVay then surrounded himself with an experienced staff. General manager Les Snead, meanwhile, emphasized building around 2016 No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff by addressing the offensive line and wide receiver prior to the draft, where the team continued to surround the quarterback with weapons. 

Chicago may not have perfectly replicated the blueprint that led to the Rams' breakout 11-5 campaign, but the similarities between the two situations, albeit a year removed, are plain to see. 

Everything starts with the right hire.

Like Fisher, Fox's time had passed. The organization's investment in quarterback Mitchell Trubisky drove the hiring process and subsequent moves. Nagy excelled as Andy Reid's offensive coordinator, especially after the assistant took over play-calling duties during the 2017 campaign's final month. 

Nagy, who's never been a head coach at any level, made a few inspired hires, including two on the offensive side of the ball. 

As the game continues to evolve, NFL coaches must adapt to the collegiate approach or wither on the tree of convention. Nagy brought a spread expert to Chicago when he chose former Oregon Ducks head coach Mark Helfrich as offensive coordinator. 

The head coach plans to call plays, but Helfrich will help create wrinkles that will make the Bears extremely hard to defend from a schematic point of view. 

"He's just a bag full of tricks," running back Tarik Cohen said of Helfrich, per the Chicago Sun-Times' Patrick Finley. "You never know what plays he's going to have out here to install. You're coming into work excited about what the day's going to bring."

Creativity tends to inspire those who deal with the monotony and conformity often found within professional football's daily grind. Cohen, for example, can be a multipurpose threat as a runner out of the backfield or split out wide as a receiver in the mold of former Ram Tavon Austin or the Kansas City Chiefs' Tyreek Hill.  

"The combination of coach Helfrich and coach Nagy is just tremendous about ways to attack defenses and having different ways to do it, that makes sense to players and doesn't confuse them," offensive line coach Harry Hiestand said, per NBC Sports Chicago's JJ Stankevitz

Chicago Bears offensive line coach Harry Hiestand
Chicago Bears offensive line coach Harry HiestandNam Y. Huh/Associated Press

Hiestand brings an entirely different perspective, yet his inclusion is no less important. His old-school approach stresses the little details. 

More often than not, a standout offense requires a strong foundation along its front five. The Rams needed to add veteran linemen Andrew Whitworth and John Sullivan to provide stability. 

Hiestand has long been considered one of the game's best teachers, and second-round pick James Daniels will be his pet project. The Bears plan to keep Cody Whitehair at center, while the 20-year-old Daniels will have an opportunity to start at left guard, according to 670 The Score's Chris Emma

The Iowa product discussed his budding relationship with his position coach, per Finley

"When we were doing drills and individual [work], he actually takes the time to talk about each individual drill and why you hold your hands this certain way or why your feet are this way. I really appreciate how detailed he was in every single drill we did. ...

"It just makes things easier. If a coach tells you to do a drill and he doesn't explain what's the point of doing the drill, you're like, 'Why am I doing this?' So when he explains every single point in the drill and how it translates over to the field, I think that's really helpful."

A detail-oriented approach isn't just beneficial to a rookie; the veteran starters—Whitehair, Kyle Long, Bobby Massie and Charles Leno Jr.—should improve courtesy of better coaching. 

A strong offensive front will make life much easier for Trubisky, who will enter his second season as a full-time starter since leaving Mentor (OH) High School. Goff blossomed in year two, and the same expectations should extend to the 2017 second overall pick. 

Trubisky completed 59.4 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions as a rookie. 

"Each and every detail that we give him means something. It's not just something he writes down in a book. He wants to know the why," Nagy said of his quarterback, per NBC Sports Chicago's Bryan Perez. "He's a good person that is in this for the right reason. His teammates absolutely love him. It was the same thing with Alex [Smith] in Kansas City."

Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich and quarterback Mitchell Trubisky
Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich and quarterback Mitchell TrubiskyNam Y. Huh/Associated Press

As Trubisky learns the offense and matures into a team leader, Nagy and Helfrich can get more creative. Although, they should be expected to implement more spread concepts with increased tempo. These changes will create a comfort level for the second-year signal-caller after he became accustomed to both at North Carolina

In order to succeed, though, the Bears had to improve their skill positionswhich ranked among the NFL's worst last season, particularly wide receiver. Goff would never have succeeded without contributions from Todd Gurley, Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Gerald Everett. 

Gurley, like Bears feature back Jordan Howard, was already in place. The rest were acquired through various means, as Chicago aggressively pursued multiple targets to jump-start last year's 32nd-ranked passing offense. Cameron Meredith, Kendall Wright and Dontrelle Inman are no longer on the roster. They've been replaced by Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller. 

Robinson became the offseason's crown jewel as the top available wide receiver despite suffering a torn ACL during last year's season opener against the Houston Texans. The 24-year-old Robinson is only three years removed from a 1,400-yard, 14-touchdown campaign. He's yet to take a snap in Chicago, but he's already established himself as the "alpha" during Bears wideout meetings, according to wide receivers coach Mike Furrey, per Stankevitz

"And a lot of times that alpha talks a lot and they don't really put it out there," Furrey said. "He kind of has that alpha quietness to him. He understands what's going on, you can look at him and you just kind of get that feel of he has a great understanding of how to approach this game at this level."

The 6'3", 211-pound target is a physical route-runner who excels when asked to go up and pluck the ball out of the air. His size makes him an ideal X-receiver and the top option in the Bears' revamped passing attack. The revitalization at receiver didn't stop with Robinson.  

Gabriel signed as a free agent as well. The diminutive (5'8", 165 pounds) target is a speed merchant and a wonderful complementary piece opposite Robinson. 

Chicago Bears wide receiver Anthony Miller
Chicago Bears wide receiver Anthony MillerNam Y. Huh/Associated Press

Bears GM Ryan Pace also traded up in the second round of April's draft to acquire Anthony Miller. Memphis' all-time leading receiver was the class's top-rated pure slot receiver, and he has the potential to become Trubisky's security blanket like Kupp did for Goff. 

"He has big hands, which makes it a little bit easier to catch the football, and you see that," Nagy said of the collegiate walk-on, per's Jeff Dickerson. "He's a natural catcher."

Another option already on the roster will be used differently, too. Last year's second-round pick, Adam Shaheen, will team with free-agent acquisition Trey Burton to form an important duo within Nagy's offense considering Travis Kelce led the Chiefs in receptions the last two seasons. 

"We're going to be all over the field," Shaheen said, per the Sun-Times' Adam L. Jahns. "It's going to be good to be a part of."

All of the pieces are in place for the Bears to become the NFL's newest offensive juggernaut. The group may even challenge the Rams as the league's best. The copycats have a chance to be copied since the Bears organization had the foresight to make the right hires and build a talented offense around a promising young signal-caller.

Most franchises should be envious of Chicago because the Bears are on the precipice of something special. 


Brent Sobleski covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @brentsobleski.


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