Hub Arkush: Nagy's offense may not be as different as you think
BOURBONNAIS -- If the Bears first five days of practice in Bourbonnais this year have been any indication, one might think new head coach Matt Nagy's new-age offense is pretty close to all passing, all the time.
Following practice on Tuesday, though, Nagy took a moment to assure us that's not really the case and that what we've seen so far is part his offense, and part just the realities of getting it installed.
"When you get into this RPO (run-pass-option) stuff, a lot of the time the ball is thrown and a run is called. So that's going to naturally happen," Nagy said.
"But no, right now, we're just putting it in the pot, we're going to stir it around and depending on the period that we have, and also our guys' legs, if you keep throwing the ball down field, you've got to pull back on the receiver and tight ends' legs a little, so we might sprinkle in some more runs."
In fact if you look at the Kansas City Chiefs offense last year with Nagy calling the plays, not only were they just 14th in NFL passing percentage throwing the ball 58.9 percent of the time, they also had the NFL's leading rusher, Kareem Hunt: 272-1,327, 4.9 yards per catch, 8 TDs.
Over the past three seasons, all of which Nagy was instrumental in the Kansas City offense, the Chiefs threw the ball an average of 59.9 percent of the time.
Over those same three seasons the Bears threw the ball 65.14 percent of the time, although it was lowered all the way to 54.8 percent last season in large part because Mitch Trubisky started 12 games as a rookie.
I asked Nagy why he thinks there is a perception all he wants to do is throw the ball and although he didn't really answer the question, he did end up focusing on just what his offensive philosophy is.
"The stats are great, they help you in certain percentages with whether or not you're going to have a great percent to win the game or lose a game, turnovers, drives into the red zone, etc.," Nagy said. "Our guys, we're built full of guys who don't care who gets the ball and who gets the respect, same thing with the coaches."
"Who cares who calls the plays, who designs the plays, who called the blitz, who called the fake punt, etc. It doesn't matter.
"When you build your team around those types of people -- selfless, egoless -- normally you'll end up winning some games."
According to Nagy's new number one receiver, Allen Robinson, it's not that the Bears new offense is so different, it's that it allows players to be versatile and do a lot of different things within it.
"There's a lot of flexibility in the offense. Me being a bigger receiver, but I think I'm a versatile receiver," Robinson said. "I think that's something that coach Nagy, as far as his offensive scheme, it's about versatility."
"For me, watching him, the play-calls that he had prior to coming here, I knew that was something that was a big part of his offense, is versatility."
I asked Robinson if the receivers' routes were different in Nagy's scheme and again he said not necessarily.
"I mean as far as route concepts and routes at all, it's all for the most part relative," Robinson said.
"Again it's not really about learning new routes, it's just that certain routes are implemented in different places in the offense."
At the end of the day it sounds like it's not that Nagy's offense is all that different from other NFL teams, it appears he just has a lot more plays to choose from and isn't locked into any set time to call them.
Robinson calls it versatility and run, pass options certainly require versatile athletes to run them.
The question now appears to be how long it will take for these young Bears to figure out when to do what with the options Nagy is giving them, and how long it will take them to figure that out.
• Hub Arkush, the executive editor of Pro Football Weekly, can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Hub_Arkush.