Advertising

Bears players laud Nagy for unorthodox move

nagy_cohen_082718

Back at Halas Hall Monday, Bears players universally praised coach Matt Nagy's decision not to play most of the team's starters in Saturday's preseason game against the Chiefs.

"I was happy, just about his approach," said inside linebacker Danny Trevathan. "In the preseason, you get little nicks and bruises that carry on through the regular season. I felt like it was a smart move on his part, the way the game is changing. It makes his players look at him like he really cares about them. We see what he's doing and appreciate it."

"It's a smart decision, seeing that he doesn't want us to get injured," said running back Tarik Cohen. "[It's a] big season for us. We're optimistic about how this season is going to turn out, so we want everybody healthy."

NFL teams typically view their next-to-last preseason game as a dress rehearsal for the regular season and play their starters into the third quarter.

Bears players were impressed that Nagy did what he felt was best for his team even though it was unconventional and surely would be criticized outside the organization.

"He doesn't care about what everybody else is going to think," Cohen said. "He's just looking out for our best interests and the team's best interest, and that's the type of coach you want on your side."

"He's himself," Trevathan said. "He's all about 'being you.' He's not just talking it, but he's really about it. We really lean toward that guy and we're looking to him for leadership. We appreciate the moves he's making to make us a better team. It's risky out there in preseason, so it's all about being smart and getting your guys ready for the season."

Last year the Bears lost top receiver Cameron Meredith for the season in their next-to-last preseason game with a torn ACL. His absence was a huge blow to a passing attack that finished the year ranked dead last in the NFL.

While the Bears were resting their starters Saturday, Jaguars receiver Marqise Lee sustained a season-ending knee injury in a win over the Falcons when he was tackled after making a reception over the middle.

"Definitely for me, that being one of my close friends, that was very tough to see," said receiver Allen Robinson II, who signed with the Bears after spending his first four NFL seasons with the Jaguars. "Coach Nagy has the best interests for us players and this team. At the end of the day, whenever you can try to take certain precautions, that was in the best interests."

A secondary benefit for the Bears came when their reserves outperformed Chiefs starters while gaining valuable experience in a 27-20 win.

Nagy's decision to rest his starters in the Bears' penultimate preseason game could become a trend in the NFL, especially if teams continue to lose key players to injuries.

"Just because we've been [playing starters in the third preseason game] for a long time doesn't mean it's right," said outside linebacker Sam Acho. "Just because it's what most NFL teams do doesn't mean it's the right way of thinking.

"I love what coach Nagy's approach is. He's thinking, 'What's best for my team? What's best for the Bears?' He's not thinking, 'What does everybody else do?' Or 'what would make me look good in front of my players or the coaches or the media?' He's not thinking that way. He's thinking, 'What is going to help us beat Green Bay?'

"I trust coach Nagy, and when I heard [that the starters were not going to play against the Chiefs], I trusted him and I believed him. He knows what he's doing. He continues to tell us, 'Guys, just trust me, trust me it's going to work out.'"

Nagy made the decision in part because the Bears started training camp earlier than any other team because they played in the Hall of Fame Game, had two physical joint practices with the Broncos and had a great week of practice leading up to Saturday's contest against the Chiefs.

Despite limited preseason reps, Bears players insist that they'll be ready for the Sept. 9 regular-season opener in Green Bay.

"I've been playing football for a long time," said safety Adrian Amos Jr.. "We play football. We've tackled. Game reps and things like that, certain people will be concerned about it. I'm not too concerned about it."

"We're playing against human beings in practice, and [defensive end] Akiem Hicks is pretty big and strong," said right guard Kyle Long. "So I know I'm going to be prepared. I know [the offensive line] is going to be ready to roll."

Long is just fine with not seeing that much game action in the preseason.

"I think you'd be crazy to say, 'I want to play more reps of meaningless football,'" he said. "Until they start passing for wins and losses, it's an opportunity for the younger guys and the backups to have their opportunity to make the team.

"Unfortunately, you saw with Marqise Lee and guys like that [who were injured], I think that answers your question. It's kind of pointless."

Advertising

Advertising