Chicago Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy spoke to the media via a Zoom conference call on Wednesday.
During his time on screen, Nagy touched upon a variety of topics as his team moves into the second phase of training camp. This portion of the pre-season build is part of an eight-day period that is similar to the first phase of a traditional offseason program. There are walk-throughs and strength training, but nothing with contact, helmets, or conditioning tests. It’s a gradual build up, and the Bears are in the early stages. In case you’re curious as to what the rest of camp looks like, I encourage you to re-visit this piece we wrote.
I’ve taken some time to pull some quotes I thought were interesting, while also adding my own commentary.
The Right Guard Competition Begins
Nagy provided a lay of the land with regards to the right guard battle between newcomer Germain Ifedi and incumbent Rashaad Coward:
“We just see that as a competition where you got a guy with a lot of experience in Germain Ifedi versus a guy (Rashaad Coward) with not as much experience. But two really good guys that we have a lot of belief in with an offensive line coach in Juan Castillo that believes heavily in both of them. I just thing for them, just like other positions, we’ve got to be really detailed with how we give reps and how we evaluate the position.”
Of the non-QB camp battles, what happens at right guard intrigues me the most. In a traditional camp setting, I would drive to Bourbonnais, set up shop as close as I could to the offensive linemen, and see who is putting in the work. There are few things as football-y as a good old-fashioned battle in the trenches. And in the case of Ifedi-Coward, this showdown is one that’s as old as time. It’s the veteran with experience against the upstart with upside. But of course, there are caveats.
Ifedi, who turned 26 in June, is a veteran, but still young in the game. And he has the prospect pedigree that comes with being a first-round pick. There is some post-hype sleeper buzz surrounding Ifedi. As for Coward, who doesn’t turn 26 until November, he is a converted defensive tackle who Nagy moved to the offensive side of the ball upon arrival. The Bears like him enough to give him a fair shot at winning a camp competition after taking over for Kyle Long last year.
Again, after quarterback, this position battle is the one to watch.
Feelin’ Good Because the Guys Look Good
This was good to see:
Asked how the #Bears look physically after reporting — as in their fitness and conditioning — Matt Nagy specifically mentions Akiem Hicks and Cordarrelle Patterson as being in great shape.
— Adam Jahns (@adamjahns) August 5, 2020
There are a handful of reasons I like seeing this.
First, it’s encouraging that the team’s best players look good upon arrival. It’s leadership by example. Good teams are great when its best players are the hardest workers. Secondly, remember that Akiem Hicks’ season was an injury shortened one. So to hear Nagy single him out suggests that recovery went well, and that Hicks is ready to roll. Additionally, I’m intrigued by the Cordarrelle Patterson name drop. I look at what appears to be a short-staffed running backs room, see Patterson’s 7.6 yards per rush is the best among anyone with a minimum of 100 attempts, and envision the Bears using Patterson like how the Patriots did in 2018. Maybe I’m extending myself to think that is a possibility. But the Bears’ lack of interest in available backs leads me to think they’re preparing to work with alternative internal options.
Nagy Hammers Down on Mask Wearing, COVID Precautions
The Bears head coach is taking this seriously.
“We educate everybody and we let everybody know: ‘Expect the unexpected,'” Nagy explained. “We’re not talking about hamstrings, ankles, and soft-tissue injuries or just colds. We’re talking about the whole COVID deal. You just never know. Every single day for the rest of the season, we’re going to get a call and it’s either somebody’s on the list or they’re not. We just have to have a bunch of contingency plans. You’ve got to always try to stay one or two steps ahead.”
Knowledge is power. And planning ahead is empowering. Words are just words. But so long as the Bears and the NFL act behind them, then I’ll have some confidence that we’ll get through a football season.
Nagy said he is harping on players to keep their masks on while at Halas Hall. Obviously, safety is a priority. But also, Nagy noted that some players aren’t used to wearing masks all the time. With that in mind, I imagine it’s good to have someone around nudging you to keep you in check. And with perspective like this, I feel as if the Bears are on a positive path:
“You hear a lot of people say: ‘Well, you’ve got to treat it like everybody has it.’ In my opinion, you’ve got to treat it like you have it. Right? If you treat it like you have it, you wear your mask, and the percentages of spreading it can be a lot lower.”
Boom! It’s that simple. A little bit of selflessness can go a long way — for everyone. Athletes. Coaches. Individuals. Everyone.
Nagy also maintained the team isn’t planning to copycat the Saints’ bubble idea, although said that he, GM Ryan Pace, and Head Trainer Andre Tucker still discuss shoring up protocols for the Halas Hall bubble. I can’t imagine it’s easy, but the Bears seem to be thorough with how they are handling things.
Rookies Getting Rave Reviews
Good job, rookies.
Matt Nagy says no coaches have any concerns with rookies on how they are attacking these walk-throughs and meetings. Sounds impressed with what the rookies have done so far. #Bears
— Zack Pearson (@Zack_Pearson) August 5, 2020
I don’t expect a coach to bus-toss his rookies early in training camp. On the other hand, taking Nagy’s words at face value would mean good news is on the horizon. If the rookies are soaking up information without cheat sheets at this point of the summer, it would mean one fewer set of restrictions on the most inexperienced players. In order for the Bears (or any team) to get through a football season, they’ll need contributions from everywhere. Particularly the rookies.
For more from Coach Nagy, check out the video embedded below: