Mistakes were made during Day 1 of the Chicago Bears’ weekend rookie minicamp, but first-year head coach Matt Nagy expected it. No harm, no foul … right?
After Day 2, Nagy believes he saw improvement. And if the Bears’ youngsters are doing what they can to not make the same mistakes twice, then things are truly off on the right foot in Chicago.
Nagy spoke to the media at Halas Hall after his second day running the rookie mincamp, and you can watch his press conference in its entirety here. For now, here are some highlights.
“Today Was An Improvement”
A daily goal of mine is to be better today than I was yesterday. Naturally, that is what every player (and coach) strives for, too. If Day 1 was good (despite Nagy noting the expected miscues), then it’s noteworthy that Day 2 was better.
“Today was an improvement. It was a little better, which was nice to see. That’s what we asked for. I think the guys are starting to get a feel for a lot of reps, which we’re getting some good video of to see where they’re at with their reps, their legs, their bodies, mental reps, that sort of thing. Overall, we were pretty happy with how today’s practice went.”
On Why It’s Hard to Say Who Has Stood Out
Believe me, I’m as excited as you are to figure out who’s making waves at Bears rookie minicamp. However, Coach Nagy is pumping the breaks on raising early expectations, and has his reasons. Not only are we looking at a small sample of an evaluation period, it’s become increasingly difficult to get a feel for what these players are doing because of the league-sanctioned activities that limit what can be done.
“It’s hard because the pads aren’t on. These guys have rules that they need to follow. So if a guy wants to try to dive for a ball and make a special play, you can’t. We’re telling them don’t dive on the ground and stay away. We’re telling them in practice or in the morning in meetings that offense is going to win any 50/50 ball, so that’s advantage offense. That’s what the rules are, we abide by them, so not everybody’s going to jump out.”
So, I suppose it’s going to be difficult for defensive players to make their mark this weekend. Then again, it’s only a few days and there is plenty of time moving forward for players on both sides to impress their coaches.
On Embracing Bears Alumni
Recent history hasn’t been too kind to the Bears, but the franchise has a prestigious past and the Bears’ new coach has been quick to embrace it. Several players showed up for a team dinner on Thursday, while six-time Pro Bowl center Olin Kreutz stopped by on Saturday to check out the happenings at Halas Hall. Nagy truly seems to like the vibes brought by the old guard, especially if it can rub off in a positive way for young players.
“It’s about the family atmosphere. So whether or not I was a part of it, it doesn’t matter – I am now. This is all a “we” thing, it’s not about me and these guys. You could feel the energy and happiness that they had coming back here. We wanted to let them know there’s an open-door policy … this is us. So any chance you get to re-live maybe your past and the experiences that you had here, we’re crazy if we don’t let our young guys right now feel that. There’s so much history and tradition and it’s just so powerful to have that.”
Trust the Process? You bet.
Rookie minicamp isn’t just a learning process for the seven draft picks, 15 undrafted free agents, and handful of young veterans trying to make a positive impression. It’s also a learning process for the first-year head coach and his coaching staff. After getting his feet wet with the team’s recent veteran minicamp, Nagy is going through it again with the rookies. And once everyone gets together for the next camp, things will run a bit smoother now that people have a better idea of what they need to be doing and where they should be going.
“I really believe that each and every day for us as coaches, little things like staying back 15 yards from the line of scrimmage, staying behind the ball, getting to the sideline, these are all things that staffs that are together for a long time they know inside out. But we’re learning that as players and coaches, so the process, for me, has been good and the guys have reacted really well, too.”