Hub Arkush: Matt Nagy knows his Chicago Bears the best
CHICAGO – The Chicago Bears climbed to 2-2 on the preseason with a 27-20 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday.
The offense was outstanding, running up 24 first half points, but how much it really means is tough to know after head coach Matt Nagy announced Friday night before the game that most of his starters would be on the sidelines.
Thirty-one Bears — including 19 of the likely 22 opening-night starters — were ruled out of the Chiefs game, which was expected to be the final dress rehearsal for the regular season.
Among potential Day One starters, only wideout Taylor Gabriel, guard Eric Kush, five-technique Jonathan Bullard and dime cornerback Cre’von LeBlanc played.
Chase Daniel was outstanding at quarterback, completing 15-of-18 passes for 198 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions and sacks taken en route to a 149.5 passer rating.
Daniel, in his fifth season in Matt Nagy’s offense, left the team and its fans feeling good about where they’ll be should Mitch Trubisky ever be unable to go.
It wasn’t enough, however, to drown out the drumbeat of questions, debate and controversy over why Trubisky, who has just a few months experience in Nagy’s offense with next to no game experience, wasn’t on the field vs. the Chiefs.
Under a barrage of questions in his postgame interview, Nagy insisted it was based on his belief that Trubisky and his team are ready now for the Packers and extra work Saturday wasn’t worth the risk of injury.
“We have to understand we had the Hall of Game, and I get the starters didn’t play, but we had great practices,” Nagy said. “Then we had two games and two great practices with Denver, and our guys are really flying around and hitting.
“So I talked with our coaches early in the week and said if we have a great week of practice and it’s fast and it’s fluid, then we should talk about resting some of our guys. I want all of our guys to be 100 percent health-wise for opening night in Green Bay.”
Nagy is right with one exception. There is no tackling in practice, nobody is “flying around and hitting” and it doesn’t vaguely resemble game action.
But pushed on that issue, Nagy was defiant saying, “I hear it but I don’t believe it right now with where we’re at. We’re at 2,000 snaps (for Trubisky) right now in practice, so for someone to tell me that with 25-to-30 plays (in Saturday’s game) we’re going to get better, I just don’t buy that.
“I know this team better than anybody right now and I feel strongly about that. I love where we’re at as a team and a family, and I just feel like those 25 or 30 plays aren’t going to sway whether we win in Green Bay or not.”
What we can take from this game is the Bears’ depth on offense was surprisingly impressive, and at least going into the game, Kevin White’s roster spot wasn’t near as assured as we thought, but both he and fellow receiver Javon Wims appeared to lock themselves in vs. the Chiefs.
Chiefs cornerback Orlando Scandrick might still be looking for his jock on the Soldier Field turf after White scorched him on a stop and go to break wide open for a 29-yard touchdown, his first in the NFL, and Wims finished with 4-114-1 receiving.
The Bears will likely carry six receivers, but if they feel they have to go with five, it’s now really difficult to envision Josh Bellamy keeping one of those spots over both White and Wims.
Knile Davis and Ryan Nall both should have moved ahead of Taquan Mizzell for the fourth RB spot, but it’s likely that won’t be decided until after the Bills game Thursday.
Mostly we learned this about Nagy, if we didn’t know it already: He couldn’t possibly be more comfortable as the head coach of the Bears right now, and he appears fearless when putting his name on controversial decisions.
All of Bears Nation should be hoping that Saturday’s decision doesn’t come back to bite him.