It’s almost go-time for the Chicago Bears and Matt Nagy, who continues his preparation leading up to the first ever regular season game as a head coach.
In Wednesday’s press conference, Nagy touched upon a variety of topics as he and the team ramp up toward a prime-time match-up on Sunday Night Football against the Green Bay Packers. Here are some of the highlights, as well as some additional commentary.
The Mack Factor Doesn’t Apply to Taking Pressure Off Mitch Trubisky
Khalil Mack makes everyone’s life easier. From the front office that is no longer worried about acquiring a pass-rusher to his teammates who should be cleared for take-off to make big plays while Mack attracts double teams and all sorts of extra attention. HOWEVER, Nagy points out that Mack’s arrival doesn’t necessarily take pressure off Chicago’s quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
“I don’t think that Mitchell cares one way or the other. I think what he does care about is that he’s on our team and he’s not chasing after 10. It’s not going to change how Mitchell plays, he’s worried about himself and how he controls that offense.”
While it won’t necessarily change how Trubisky plays, having Mack leading the charge on defense changes the dynamic of the demands for the offense. In short, this is a defense that could carry more of the load when Trubisky has a rough game. (Sorry, it’s inescapable. Everyone has them.) Because of Mack, the offense operates with a little bit more of a margin of error. Think of it like the ultimate security blanket … but one that feasts on opposing quarterbacks.
On Trubisky’s Readiness
Trubisky played just two preseason games and about three dozen snaps. It’s not as many game reps as you’d like to see from a quarterback learning a new offense, but Nagy would be quick to point out the additional practice reps Trubisky has taken with the early start to OTAs and training camp, as well as practices leading up to five weeks worth of preseason games. Right now, Nagy feels like the most important thing for Trubisky is to know the team’s scheme because bad things are looming if he doesn’t have a grasp of the offense’s concepts off the bat.
“For him, he’s got to play it out in his mind and know our stuff. So whatever’s presented to him, how do you react to that? It’s going to be a reactionary game for him and that’s our job as a staff to make sure he can do that. If he’s worried about what he has to do with our stuff, then combine that with what they’ll do on defense, that’s not good, that’s not advantageous to us.”
It’s a far different philosophy from what the Bears’ offense was about in 2017, so I’m curious to see how Trubisky handles it once the lights go on at Lambeau Field.
“No. 12 is Pretty Much as Special as They Get”
Nagy showed nothing but mutual respect for Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, as he discussed the star quarterback’s career arc. But respect aside, Nagy’s team has to find a way to limit the damage in order to give itself a chance to win.
“He makes plays that just so many other quarterbacks can’t make. That’s a huge weapon, as everybody here knows. For us, we need to understand that, respect that, and try to eliminate whatever their strengths are and that’s where I think with Vic there’s some experience playing against Aaron. In general, they’re well coached. Their offense has always been productive. They do some really good things. And so they usually fit their offense into the strength of their players.”
Preparing for the Unexpected
Nagy discussed the preparation he has to go through as he approaches his first game as a head coach. He said he has sat down during brief quiet moments to think about situational things that could happen in the course of a game and how he will handle them. One thing that will stand out once the game begins is how his team (on both sides of the ball) will present previously un-scouted looks and how it will react to when Green Bay shows what it’s got going on. Who’s ready for some new stuff we’ve never seen before?
“For any of us going through this first week of preparation, there’s always an un-scouted look. So there’s something that they’ll have, there’s something we’ll have, there’s something that every team out there is going to have, and how do you adapt to that. But his history in the NFL with the stuff that he’s done, you’re not going to stray away from what you do, so you have the core of that, but how are you gonna react to the other stuff?”
On Finding Anthony Miller’s Fit
Listening to Nagy talk about player evaluation opened up a window to something I would have never thought of while listening to a previous regime talk about players. And frankly, this should be ridiculously obvious, but Nagy’s insight on how a player’s fit goes beyond height, weight, and physical skills is different than what we’ve heard from other coaches.
“We knew physically he was flashing in practice early on. And then he has that confidence that showed up, but he had to control it to where it’s not a cockiness. He made some plays that jumped out to us, we understood how he was going to start fitting into this offense and what role, and then what we did we kind of pulled back and said, ‘OK now he fits physically, but where does he fit mentally?’ Over those last few weeks, we’ve been trying to test that out, and then he fell into that range for us. We felt like where he’s OK where he’s at, and we’ll go ahead and figure out where the best spots for him in this upcoming game.”
Now, I’m really ready to see how Miller steps into game action.
You can check out the rest of the press conference blow: