Helfrich hire proves how important Trubisky's development is to Bears
Because the development of quarterback Mitch Trubisky is so important to the Bears' future success, it will be a priority not only for new head coach Matt Nagy but for offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, who helped coach Marcus Mariota to the Heisman Trophy at Oregon.
"You talk about developing quarterbacks," Nagy said, "we're a team here that's in that position with Mitchell."
Helfrich's work with quarterbacks as the offensive coordinator and then head coach at Oregon was a key element for Nagy, who was seeking a tutor for Trubisky.
"Just (his) knowing how to develop quarterbacks and handle quarterbacks," Nagy said of what made Helfrich an easy hire. "It's such an important position in this league, and it's a delicate position that has to be done the right way. It was a slam dunk the second I knew he was interested and got to talk football and people skills with him."
Trubisky, however, is not a delicate orchid or a temperamental star who needs to be treated with kid gloves. And he doesn't have to be nagged to put in the work required to reach his potential. But he still has a tremendous amount of information to process and technique to master, and he can't do it alone.
And, while Nagy's success will be tied to Trubisky's, the head coach has more concerns than the starting QB. That's where Helfrich comes in.
"It's just understanding how to handle (quarterbacks), how to treat them," Nagy said. "Knowing how to be a teacher to them in the classroom.
"There's going to be some times you have to get on them a little bit. There's going to be tough love. But really when it comes down to it, it's teaching details and fundamentals, and (Helfrich) has that. "
During his time at Oregon (2009-16) and last season as a Fox Sports analyst, Helfrich didn't have the opportunity to study Trubisky much while he was playing at North Carolina. Since his hiring, though, the new offensive coordinator has seen a lot of film work on his top pupil and made some interesting observations.
"The biggest thing that jumped out to me as I watched him on film is that he's coachable," Helfrich said. "You can tell a quarterback is coachable watching his feet and his eyes -- and (Trubisky's) eyes are deliberate. He's going from (option) one to two to three.
"The other thing that jumped out is his accuracy and taking care of the football. He had a (41-10) touchdown-to-interception ratio in college. That works. We need to continue that. We can't put the defense in a bad situation."
Helfrich has worked with a wide array of quarterbacks, but he says the truly great ones have certain traits in common.
"You have to have a talented guy who wants to be coached and a talented guy that wants to be great," Helfrich said. "You get him to say that, then hold him to that standard."
Helfrich takes pride in his work with Mariota, who followed his Heisman Trophy award by starting 42 games in his first three seasons in the NFL and is considered one of the rising quarterback stars.
"It's so cool to see him continue to be who he truly is at the elite-of-the-elite level," Helfrich said. "A guy who walked in the first day and never looked up. He would look at his shoes all day long. To see the guy now that engages people and, just exudes who he is, where he's from. When you've got a guy that has that in him, that also has the desire and the want, it's easy."
Any similarities between Mariota and Trubisky?
"A lot," Helfrich said. "Mitchell has a tight release. He's an accurate passer. They also have a couple things similar that makes them inaccurate. Their feet take them out of position. But I sense from talking to a (Bears) offensive linemen -- and this was unsolicited -- but when your offensive linemen are talking about how hard your quarterback works, that's a great sign. So he needs to do that and continue to challenge himself and improve."
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