Having reported to training camp a week before 30 NFL teams with an extra preseason exhibition in the Hall of Fame Game, Matt Nagy confirmed on Friday that most major Bears starters won’t play against the Chiefs on Saturday afternoon. That, of course, notably includes Mitchell Trubisky as the Bears’ main contributors turn their focus towards the regular season.
This was a plan that Nagy and his Bears coaching staff apparently planned for in advance knowing they had that extra week of camp. So much so, that most Chicago starters received extra snaps in this week’s practices to compensate. Last week’s contest against the Denver Broncos - where many featured Bears played until near the end of the first half - now looks like it was the real dress rehearsal preseason game.
None of this news should be surprising in the slightest given what Nagy has previously said. If Trubisky and his Bears teammates are going to be successful and take progressive steps in 2018, they have to be healthy for that to happen. To help with that notion, Nagy has continually reiterated that his preseason goal for his team was being as healthy as possible for the Packers in Week 1. The first-time head coach is sticking to his guns.
Don’t discount the idea that injuries suffered by Adam Shaheen, Leonard Floyd, and DeAndre Houston-Carson against Denver likely also accelerated this thought process for Nagy. With two preseason games left that no one should remember come January, the Bears were not about to risk banging up their players even more in non-meaningful action. Whereas previous Bears coaching staffs may have placed their future of the franchise behind a bottom of the roster offensive line in the last minute of the last preseason game against the Browns, Nagy’s crew is of a different mindset.
Which, to Nagy’s credit, every NFL coach would ideally adopt this same mentality. The preseason is a warm-up, nothing more. Why risk the bacon when the play will have no bearing? Take your evaluative process only to a specific extent, and the Bears are doing that.
What sitting guys down against the Chiefs also means is that the Bears’ starting 22 on offense and defense, barring injuries suffered in practice, is likely set for now. Expect Eric Kush to start at left guard instead of rookie second rounder James Daniels. And judging by recent games and starts, Roy Robertson-Harris should be the defensive end opposite Akiem Hicks. Those depth chart positional battles have reached their conclusion. There will still be competitions near the bottom of the team to sort through for the final 53-man roster, but the starters are settled.
Ultimately, Nagy wants the Bears to have their eyes on the prize. If that means taking them out of unnecessary harm’s way in August so they can be full go in September, so be it. The next 16 days emphasize mental repetitions and getting fresh. As they should. The Bears are on to Green Bay.
Robert is an editor, writer, and producer for Windy City Gridiron, The Rock River Times, The Athletic Chicago, and other fine publications. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski and contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.