Though many apologists defend him, there’s very little doubt that Matt Nagy made some mistakes in 2019 that contributed to the Bears disappointing season. Generally speaking, Nagy did what most coaches do and admitted nothing during the year.
But it seems that after some thought, he’s reconsidering at least one questionable decision. Via Bryan Perez at NBC Sports Chicago:
“Matt Nagy admitted Friday that his decision not to play his starters during the 2019 preseason was a mistake that he won’t repeat this year.
“‘As we talk, that’s one of the things that I look back at from last year that I’m not happy about that I made a decision to do in the preseason,’ Nagy said on the Waddle & Silvy Show. ‘Number one, I think it’s good for them to have it, but number two it sets the mentality. So that’s not going to happen this year.'”
To me, this is really good news.
Nagy has largely gotten a pass on many of the mistakes that he made last year as members of the some media defended (and continue to defend) some of his more questionable decisions. Not playing his starters during the preseason was one of them.
Nagy decided that scheduling and playing a intra-squad scrimmage last year was enough to get the team ready to play. This strategy apparently worked out OK in 2018 so one can’t really blame him too much for playing it this way.
Nevertheless from the first snap in game one against Green Bay, it was evident that the team wasn’t in the right frame of mind. Most prominent among those players apparently affected was quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who hadn’t seen a snap without a red jersey on since January and whose eyes were dilated from the first minute. Trubisky was woefully unprepared to play and it helped set him back so far mentally that it took weeks for him to recover.
Even then he only managed to be league average by the end of the year and this is related to yet another mistake that Nagy made. Going softly and telling Trubisky to relax in the offseason rather than working harder to refine his craft obviously backfired because, by Nagy’s own admission, Trubisky still didn’t know the playbook well enough as his second year in the offense started. As a result, Nagy had to cut it down and this hampered the offense the whole year.
Though Nagy hasn’t come out and admitted that going easy on Trubisky hurt his preparedness to play, he’s certainly not handling him the same way this year. Now he’s cranking up the pressure by supplying competition in Nick Foles, who at least some smart people think is actually the favorite to win the job. How Trubisky responds will be one of the more interesting subplots of the offseason.
From the way he handled training camp to the way he handled the game in London, where the Bears flew in late in the week and were obviously jet lagged, Nagy definitely contributed his share to sporting what was a noncompetitive team last year with some questionable decisions.
It’s a very good sign to see that at least some of those mistakes won’t be repeated.