We expected Matt Nagy to do some things we weren’t quite used to when he took over for John Fox, but I’m not sure anyone saw *this* coming:
After their best week of practices so far in 2018, Matt Nagy met with the team today to inform them most starters, including Mitchell Trubisky, will not play in #KCvsCHI. Coach Nagy and his staff had planned for this all week, giving starters on both sides of the ball extra reps.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) August 25, 2018
The Chicago Bears aren’t playing quarterback Mitch Trubisky and most of their starters on both sides of the ball in Saturday’s exhibition against the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s a surprising and unconventional move, seeing that Preseason Week 3 has served as a dress rehearsal for teams for as long as I’ve been watching football. I guess practice went really well for the team to make this decision.
And because most of us have seen with our own eyes that preseason games really don’t simulate realistic NFL scenarios and situations, sitting starters today might not be the craziest idea.
HOWEVER, there is a strong argument to be made for the Bears – specifically, their offensive players – needing practice reps in order to get in a rhythm and feel for game speed.
Maybe they will get them at Halas Hall where coaches can create a controlled environment in which to practice. All things considered, they could certainly use them. After all, this offense is being led by a new head coach, offensive coordinator, and new position coaches throughout the staff. From a roster perspective, it’s a group led by a quarterback with just 12 professional regular season starts under his belt … but no regular season reps with projected starting wide receivers Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, and Anthony Miller, or tight end Trey Burton. And let’s not forget the Bears’ issues with shotgun snap exchanges from Cody Whitehair or that second-round offensive lineman James Daniels doesn’t have a starting position locked down just yet. In short, there are good reasons that a unit that has just a handful of preseason reps should be fine-tuning their efforts on Saturday afternoon at Soldier Field.
On the other hand, if the Bears’ goal was to be as healthy as possible for Week 1, this is one way to go about getting it done. It’s easy to make a case that the decision to sit starters is a forward-thinking one that has long-term player safety in mind. Tight end Adam Shaheen, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, and safety DeAndre Houston-Carson have already suffered serious injuries that will carry into the regular season. This decision could come down to the Bears simply feeling that they can’t stand to take any more major injuries so close to the start of the regular season.
Losing a key player for an extended period of time during a preseason game can have major implications for said player and team. Just think back to when Cameron Meredith was lost to a season-ending injury during last year’s dress rehearsal game against the Tennessee Titans. To be clear, Meredith’s mere presence in the lineup wasn’t going to put the Bears in contention. But the dynamic of the offense changed drastically without having a reliable pass-catching threat for Trubisky (and Mike Glennon, too, I guess). Losing an important player before games of consequence get under way is something I’m sure the Bears (and frankly, each of the NFL’s other 31 teams) don’t want to re-live again.
This decision certainly has a chance to backfire on Nagy. If the Bears show up in Green Bay and look a little rusty against the Packers, I’m not sure there is anyone who will look back at the decision to rest starters as a missed opportunity for improvement. But if it doesn’t, the Bears could be viewed as a team that’s ahead of the curve when it comes to balancing the risk-reward factors of the preseason.
Now, who’s ready for the Chase Daniel show?