In past years, the Bears would practice a couple days during their bye week followed by a three- or four-day weekend. But under first-year coach Matt Nagy, players are off the entire week and won't return to Halas Hall until Monday when they have a light workout.
Nagy is replicating what coach Andy Reid did with the Eagles and Chiefs when Nagy served as an offensive assistant under Reid with both teams the past 10 years. And the time off has nothing to do with the Bears blowing out the Buccaneers Sunday; it was already scheduled.
"None of it had to do with winning," Nagy said. "This is what we were going to do from the start. It's something that I've taken with me from what we've done in the past in Philadelphia and in Kansas City. Coach Reid has had a hell of a record coming after bye weeks."
For the record, Reid is an impressive 16-3 following byes with the Eagles and Chiefs.
"It doesn't mean that you win every time coming off of the bye, but there is a method to the madness and I think the biggest thing with this is that it's OK," Nagy said. "You want to give your coaches and your players a breather and you have enough trust in them to understand that they're professionals. They need to take care of themselves.
"It's important in so many different areas. I feel like sometimes you can overdo it and you can just try to squeeze every little ounce of time that you're allowed or permitted with these guys and in my opinion it's just better to let them have their time, regroup, understand that this is a long stretch here. So if we're going to get an opportunity to take a breather and re-energize, now is a great time to do it for coaches and players."
Mirror, mirror on the wall
The Bears are sitting pretty atop the NFC North with a 3-1 record and their first three-game winning streak since they opened 3-0 in 2013. But Nagy repeatedly reminds his players that the season is a marathon and not a sprint and he knows that the Bears need to continue to improve.
With that in mind, Nagy and his assistants will spend the bye week looking in a mirror.
"As a team, we'll self-scout," he said. "We'll see what we're doing, if there's some tendencies where we're at with that. Every team will do that."
The coaches are also looking at ways that they can work more efficiently as a staff, mainly with communication, organization and time management.
"Little things that no one thinks of, that's what we're doing right now, too, being our first year," Nagy said. "This isn't about the offense or the defense, this is about us as a staff. We're going to do everything we possibly can to help everybody within this organization, and that's one way during this bye week that we'll try to clean that stuff. Does a certain coach have too many responsibilities? Is he doing too much and it's taking away from him being a good coach? So just little things."
Timing is everything
With the Bears relatively healthy and having won three straight games, their bye may not have come at the most opportune time. Tight end Trey Burton certainly doesn't think so.
"It's the worst possible time to have a bye week," Burton said. "Two years ago in Philly, we were 3-1 going into the bye, beating teams up and lost seven of nine off the bye week."
Nagy understands Burton's concern, but the coach likes the timing of the bye week.
"I'm OK with where this fits," Nagy said. "We've prepared for it. We had a long preseason, and this is actually like the middle of the season for us right now. So our guys, it's a good time for them."
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