Matt Nagy's Plan to Make Up for Lost Preseason Games
Losing preseason games had many NFL coaches wringing their hands, not to mention a few young players who hoped to impress enough in those meaningless charades to win roster spots.
Even Bears coach Matt Nagy seemed caught up in the importance of preseason a year after putting his players into box and on a closet shelf with a tag, "don't open until the regular season."
Now, though, Nagy is starting to sound like his old self.
During Wednesday's press conference via Zoom, Nagy talked glowingly about how he'll use practices to benefit the Bears more than a preseason game would have.
Nagy's contention is he can get more done in a game simulation than in an actual preseason game.
"Last year, we wanted to be able to have as many situational football plays as possible," Nagy said. "You don't always get that in the preseason games.
"Sometimes maybe you go through three preseason games and you didn't have one backed-up play where you got to minus-5 in, right? And that's a big part of football."
The Bears held a simulated game the night Kyle Long removed a rookie's helmet and wielded it like a weapon. Coaches stopped plays, they started plays, they changed first-and-10 to third-and-three. The put the ball on the goal line.
One thing they didn't do in the one simulation last year was live tackling. They "thudded up."
Contact could be part of it this year, though.
"And then we can also dictate OK, listen, we're not gonna go thud here, we're gonna go live," Nagy said. "And so you can control it, which I like. That was part of the reason why we liked doing that last year."
There is one drawback, however. Even in a simulated game with hitting, they're not going to let their own players hit Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles as they're battling for the starting spot. That is a real drawback because the pressure quarterbacks face in preseason by knowing they can be hit could greatly hinder their passing. That's a much better test of their skills.
Regardless, look for a few hitting practices and some simulated games with hitting after pads come on Aug. 17.
"The other part of it, too, is it gives them that element, feel of we're in a game now," Nagy said.
Last year they set up portable lights on the new practice fields by the Payton Center and held the simulation at night like a preseason game.
"So by losing the preseason games you're able to be able to have situations like that," Nagy said. "You come up with that you can really hit every part of the different phases that you want to get good at in scheming."