When the Bears met as a team Sunday morning for the first time since trimming their roster to 53 players, coach Matt Nagy voiced a familiar refrain.
“We went back to what our message was No. 1 when the season ended and No. 2 in our first OTAs meeting,” Nagy said. “That message for us was to create our own legacy. The word legacy has been used with a lot of different teams, and in particular us being our 100th year this year. There’s been some great teams. Let’s do what we do. Let’s create our own.”
Nagy was named NFL coach of the year in his first season with the Bears in 2018 after leading them to a 12-4 record and the NFC North championship. He implemented a winning culture and excelled at keeping his team focused on the task at hand and dealing with adversity.
Nagy said that trying to create their own legacy will enable the Bears to once again concentrate solely on what’s right in front of them.
“We’ve got to worry about one thing and that’s today’s practice,” Nagy said. “That’s real. We’ve got to worry about today and then worry about tomorrow and then let’s go get that first win.”
Moving on: Final cuts are part of life in the NFL. But saying goodbye to more than 30 players who’ve given their all on and off the field isn’t easy.
“They’re all hard,” Nagy said. “There are a few where, probably they affect you more than others. I’m not going to get into who they are, but there are some there. They made it hard on us. It wasn’t easy. We do really like where we’re at and we’re excited about the amount of competition we created.”
“It’s the worst part of this business,” added quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. “You watch these guys bust their tails off and try to make the squad and make plays in the preseason. You root for those guys and you wish and hope that everybody could stay here, but the unfortunate part of the business is that not everybody can.”
Teaching moment: In last year’s season opener, the Bears raced to a 20-0 third-quarter lead over the Packers at Lambeau Field before Green Bay rallied for an improbable 24-23 win. But Nagy doesn’t consider Thursday night’s opener a revenge game.
“Everybody that was here last year, we all remember it and we use it,” Nagy said. “It’s a teaching moment for us; we said last year when that happened, ‘Let’s use this to make us better.’ And we definitely did that. And so first half really good, second half not very good. So let’s play four quarters.
“Every year is different. Our team is different this year than last year. Their team is different. We remember it. I don’t think the word ‘revenge’ as much as it is, ‘Let’s have our own really good season this year and let’s do it by trying to win Week 1,’ you know?”
Remain calm: The Bears are understandably fired up for their season opener. But they’re also focused on not getting too hyped as they prepare to face their fiercest rival on national TV.
“That’s going to be a big part of it, and I think you kind of can look at last year’s first game and take away some lessons from that,” Trubisky said. “It really doesn’t matter, all the hoopla, kicking off the NFL season, the 100th season. All of that really doesn’t matter.
“When you get in between those white lines, everybody’s got to go out there, we’ve got to just do our job and execute the play at hand. If we get caught up in the moment and you let your adrenaline take over and you don’t do what the team needs you to do, then I think you could do things that are out of character and put your team in a bad spot. So we just need to settle down, play our game, have a great week of practice, and make sure that carries over to the game and really just have tunnel vision heading into Soldier Field.”