Joniak's Journal: Bears Will Let It Rip Sunday, With One Caveat

The Bears can still earn a first-round bye -- but will need some help.

Jeff Joniak
December 26, 2018 - 4:52 pm

LAKE FOREST (WBBM Newsradio) -- With a playoff berth secured, the Bears finish the regular season with a road contest against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday at 3:25 p.m. Here are the notes and observations of Wednesday as the Bears continued their preparations.

First impression

Looking to finish the regular season strong and with some polish, Bears coach Matt Nagy is planning to let it rip at Minnesota on Sunday with one caveat.

"We’re in that weird position of we got to win," Nagy said. "We need the win. That’s what we’re talking about, but we want to make sure we are doing the right thing for them, for us, and for our future."

If the Bears (11-4) beat the Vikings (8-6-1) and the Rams (12-3) get upset by the 49ers (4-11), Chicago will earn the No. 2 seed in the NFC and an important first-round bye. Both of their games will kick off around the same time. 

With that in mind, Nagy will also be monitoring the Rams-49ers game. If Los Angeles is blowing out San Francisco, Nagy may choose to instead rest a few important players for parts of the game. 

"We’ll have a plan and process to get an idea of what we need to do," Nagy said. "Where it gets real easy ... when you just go and play your guys to win."

The Bears won't practice with that gray area in mind this week.

"We’re going there to win the game, regardless of who is in the game," Nagy said. "None of that is going change for any of the players, any of the coaches. That’s just not where we are right now. If we stay mentally focused on that, everything else will take care of itself."

Second thought

Nagy makes a habit to reiterate the Bears offense doesn't flow through one player. It's not just lip service, as seven Bears had a rush and 10 players had a catch Sunday. Nagy insists it makes play-calling easier.

"That’s actually a benefit to me," Nagy said. "You want to go ahead and double- or triple-team somebody or you want to double two guys, we’ll go to our third guy. I have ultimate trust in those guys. When you practice the concepts that we practice and they know that, they are always ready for those situations."

Third degree

It takes a certain amount of selflessness to pull off what Nagy game plans. Receivers in general want the ball and feel they're always open. But these Bears trust the process.

"It speaks a lot about the type of guys we have on this team," quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. "The unselfish nature of every single guy."

Nagy is often asked if there's an aspect or specific target he feels he can exploit in the opposing defense. He answers the question the same way every single time -- it's all about what the Bears want to dictate, not the other way around.

"If they’re going to try to take away a certain guy, then we’ll get a certain matchup on the field," Trubisky said. "Then we have our game plans that some guys might have more designed plays for others. The only thing we are worried about doing is being efficient as an offense, playing hard and playing together."


Trubisky was excited answering questions about a potential return for right guard Kyle Long this week. Long has been out since late October with a foot injury.

Long is in a good place, Nagy said. We'll know more late in the week.

"When you plug a guy like that back into the offense, it makes everyone else around them better immediately," Trubisky said. "The guys up front and it's going to give me more time, open up bigger holes in the run game. We’re definitely excited to get him back, whenever that is."

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