Joniak: Is Bears' Matt Nagy A Trendsetter?

Several teams are following Nagy's lead in not playing their starters in the preseason.

Jeff Joniak
August 21, 2019 - 5:49 pm
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LAKE FOREST (WBBM Newsradio) -- The Bears were back at practice practice ahead of their preseason matchup at the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night. Here are the notes and observations of the day.

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-- Bears coach Matt Nagy made it clear that his starters won't play in the third preseason game Saturday, which is exactly what he did last year. 

-- Colts coach Frank Reich changed course and now plans to keep his starters on the sidelines against the Bears as well. Nagy's approach that began in 2018 may have started the trend to keep health at the forefront of every preseason decision.  

-- Is Nagy a trend-setting coach in regards to holding out so many starters in the preseason? "I don’t know,” he said. "I think some teams feel that way and go that route and not play their guys. Others want to get their guys going and play them. Coach (Andy) Reid (in Kansas City) ... that is the way he goes about it and he’s certainly not wrong. He’s stuck by it, and you appreciate that.”  

-- Offensive tackle Rashad Coward is out with a sore elbow this week, with no specifics on his return as he rehabs. "He had a lot of valuable reps last year," Nagy said. "Just a reminder that this kid is coming from the other side of the ball, so it takes some time developing him. He’s been improving. We just got to get through the injury."  Coward will strictly play right tackle, not left tackle, Nagy added.

-- It feels like a high-stakes roll of the dice every day for kicker Eddy Pineiro as he tries to convince the Bears he can make a high percentage of field goals, including clutch kicks in important moments. Still, it's worth remembering that not every attempt is a referendum on the viability of Pineiro as the long-term answer.

-- The Bears' kicking competition during rookie mini-camp in the offseason was the subject of Sports Illustrated article calling into question the organization's process and evaluation. While he maintained that he didn't read the article, Nagy defended the Bears' approach. What matters most now is how Pineiro performs, as he's the lone man standing after an exhaustive search.

-- Faith amid his recovery from Leukemia is a well-told story about Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. As a cancer survivor, his view on life begins with grace, gratefulness and hope. His football life is one of gratefulness, as he's been thrilled to return to coaching this season.

-- Some NFL analysts have suggested Pagano is under great pressure in inheriting an elite unit that led the NFL in scoring defense and takeaways in 2018. Pagano has experience leading great defenses, as he was the coordinator of the 2011 Ravens, who finish No. 3 in scoring defense. A year later, Pagano became the Colts' head coach.

-- Outside linebacker James Vaughters made a terrific sack, strip and fumble recovery against the Giants, but he's trying to forget about it as he prepares for the Colts. "I am trying to think about that play like it never happened," Vaughters said. "You always think about consistency.  You might have one flashy play, but what did all of your other plays look like?" That's an interesting for a young player trying to make the final 53-man roster to look at the situation.

-- Receiver Anthony Miller (ankle) still isn't practicing, but Nagy feels good about his health outlook.

-- Cornerback Kyle Fuller (illness) and defensive lineman Eddie Goldman (personal) both missed practice Tuesday but returned to work Wednesday.

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