Nagy: Rest assured
Playoff experience teaches coach value of keeping team fresh
Decembers have been dead at Halas Hall the last four years. As the calendar has flipped to the final page, the Bears have prepared to play out the string and turn their attention to the personnel and coaching problems that have led to double-digit losses.
That has not been Matt Nagy’s reality. On the contrary, the Chiefs teams for which he was quarterback coach or offensive coordinator made the playoffs four times in five seasons from 2013 to ’17.
In other words, Nagy has experience navigating a playoff push. And he’s about to apply that to his new team.
He started by giving his players four days off after Thursday’s 23-16 victory over the Lions extended their winning streak to five and gave them three NFC North wins in 12 days. Nagy sensed obvious benefits to some recharging time, especially considering the Bears’ open date was the first weekend of October.
Some players, including injured quarterback Mitch Trubisky, were atteamheadquarters Friday anyway. When the full team returns next week, Nagy will have a plan for the final five games, the first of which is Dec. 2 at the Giants.
“Our practice reps are going to kick back a little bit; that’s to save them physically,” Nagy said. “The mental side of it, they’ve got to really be strong at that. They’ve got to understand that when they’re watching tape, they’ve got to study even more tape. When they get every single practice rep, they can’t go 75 percent. They’ve got to go 100 percent in practice.”
Nagy also challenged the coaching staff to avoid complacency and detectable tendencies in play calling and game strategy.
“We’ve got to try to stay one step ahead,” Nagy said.
There’s also the impor- tant understanding of the season’s physical toll on players.
“Taking care of these guys; let them knowwe care how they feel physically,” Nagy said. “Talk (to them). And you’ve got to stay motivated, and that shouldn’t be hard to do.”
Not from a first-place perch, it shouldn’t.
Injury report: The Bears don’t have to decide on Trubisky’s availability for the Giantsgameuntil nextweek. In the meantime, he’ll receive daily treatment. Nagy and the Bears are optimistic he’ll be able to practice Wednesday, and his progression will depend on honest communicationbetween the training staff, coaches and Trubisky, Nagy said.
Running back Benny Cunningham sprained his right ankle Thursday, and Nagy says he’s day to day. Tight end Adam Shaheen (concussion) and linebacker Aaron Lynch (concussion) are progressing in the return-to-play protocol.
Bears coach Matt Nagy’s plan for his players over the past five games will include reduced practice reps “to save them physically.”