Matt Nagy took a ton of heat for how he handled the 2019 preseason.
Limiting (and in some cases, eliminating) preseason snaps for starters was a much-maligned decision before, during, and after the 8-8 season. Sloppy play throughout and a sluggish showing from the offense had fans wringing their hands throughout the year. And while no one can prove direct correlation, it’s easy to imagine how it could’ve played a role in a disappointing 2019. With that in mind, Nagy vowed to change is ways in 2020 and give starters and regulars ample preseason snaps.
That was, of course, until a global pandemic threw a wrench into the plan and made the preseason non-existent.
One year later, Nagy promises to stick to his guns and give his regulars some burn in the preseason:
Nagy says he will be on the "more aggressive" side playing starters in the pre-season games. "To me, not having preseason last year when you are trying to evaluate…man that was hard. I'm excited for that this year." @WBBMNewsradio
— Jeff Joniak (@JeffJoniak) June 16, 2021
Righting a move that many felt was wrong in 2019 was a step in the right direction. Realizing the importance of exhibition games for players and coaches counts as a point toward progress. Deciding that things would be different than they were before is an example of what it looks like when someone learns from their mistakes. It’s a departure from what Nagy had done previously, but one that would be welcome by many.
As an added bonus, you can expect to see plenty of Justin Fields this summer.
“And as for whether he’ll actually play in the fall, what I’ve heard is that the Bears are going to give him a lot of work in the preseason games,” writes Albert Breer in his latest at The MMQB. “So if he’s going to start a move toward getting on the game field in the fall, I’d think it’ll start with how he plays there.”
So, days after Nagy explains his desire to play his starters aggressively in the preseason, word follows that he plans on giving Fields a generous workload. That’s curious timing to say the least. But it’s sensible. After all, shouldn’t the Bears want to give Fields an extended look? And for what it’s worth, this seems to be in-line with the plan that was laid out for Patrick Mahomes during his rookie season.
Follow me for a moment…
In 2017, starter Alex Smith played on 61 total exhibition snaps per PFF’s data. Of those snaps, 35 were drop-backs. Meanwhile, Mahomes was in on 97 total preseason snaps. And of those snaps, 61 were drop-backs. In other words, Mahomes took as many drop-back passing snaps as Smith took total exhibition snaps. That should raise some eyebrows. At minimum, this blueprint should give us an idea of how much we’ll see Fields this season. If history is any indication of what’s to come, be ready to watch plenty of No. 1 on the field this summer.
Nagy remains insistent on Andy Dalton being QB1 right now. But if Fields shows out in the preseason, it could give the team another level of confidence should something unfortunate happen to Dalton.