Joniak: Nagy Imploring Bears To Not Overlook Bills

November 01, 2018 - 6:30 pm
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LAKE FOREST (WBBM Newsradio) -- The Bears (4-3) were back to work Thursday, preparing for a matchup at the Buffalo Bills (2-6) on Sunday. Here are the notes and observations of the day.

First impression

Bears coach Matt Nagy is imploring his team to not look past the Bills, who are expected to start third-string quarterback Nathan Peterman.

"We’re going into a hostile environment, and that’s been our message to these guys, is let's sure you are ready for a battle," Nagy said. "Buffalo has always been very blue collar. They will come and they will hit you hard on offense, defense and special teams. Our guys need to be prepared for that."

Nagy's theme this week to his players is to "stay dialed in."

"I know this,” Nagy said. “In Buffalo, they fall into that category where it’s loud. Offensively, we have to make sure we are doing everything the right way that way. That is important on the road."

When Nagy was coaching in Kansas City a year ago, the Bills earned a 16-10 win against the Chiefs in late November. Nagy could only watch as quarterback Alex Smith threw for 199 yards, his second-lowest total of the season, and the Chiefs running game was halted by the Bills defense. The NFL's rushing champion in 2017, Kareem Hunt managed just 17 yards on 11 carries in that loss.

Second thought

Even before outside linebacker Khalil Mack arrived in Chicago a week before the regular season began, the Bears defense broadly talked about being one of the best in the league. Just because Mack is working through a sore ankle and could miss the game Sunday doesn't mean it should impact the individual and collective performance of a defense carrying high expectations.

"Our level of overall play obviously when you add a player of his caliber into it is going to be better," defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "There is still no reason for other guys to not play to the best of their abilities. I just don’t get the point that everybody makes on that."

Third degree

Nickel defender Bryce Callahan continues to play well. He was on the field for 98 percent of the defensive snaps against the Jets on Sunday and was arguably the player of the game.  His play is turning heads, Nagy's.

"One thing that Bryce does is he does it in practice all the time too," Nagy said. "He plays physical. He’s not a big kid. He’s quick, he’s very instinctive and he’s tough for how big he is. I’m glad he’s on our team, and I love the way he’s playing right now."

Callahan is fourth in tackles on the Bears defense and also has four pass breakups, three hits on the quarterback off blitzes, three tackles-for-loss and sack.

Nagy knows without nickelback whose solid or better, your defense is in trouble in today’s NFL. 

Fourth-and-short

The Bears are one of three teams in the NFL ranked in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive yardage per game, ranking 10th and seventh, respectively. The other two teams are the Rams and Vikings. Most importantly, the Bears rank in the top 10 in scoring offense and scoring defense. The Bills have the league's worst scoring offense at an incredibly low 10.9 points per game. Buffalo has 87 points through nine games. The 1992 Seattle Seahawks set the record for fewest points in a 16-game season with 140. That came just one year after the Indianapolis Colts set the record for fewest points in a 16-game season with 143 in 1991.

Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.​