New Chicago Bears head coach faced his first bout of criticism with his bold decision to rest his starters heading into Saturday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Many found the move controversial as the game was viewed as the “dress rehearsal game” where teams prepare and treat the game like a regular season game and starters play into the second half. The result was an impressive showing by the Bears against the Chiefs as not only did the players stand out, but the coach and organization also. Here are the three takeaway:
Matt Nagy stood firm in the face of criticism
Fans and media members were both in agreement and disagreement with Nagy’s decision to rest the majority of his starters. Those that sided with Nagy agreed that putting the starters at risk of injury for a meaningless half of football was the wise decisions. Those in disagreement felt that the live reps were too invaluable for the offensive starters to miss out and puts them at risk of not being fully ready week one of the regular seasons.
Nagy had his second string unit ready to go against the Chiefs starters as his offense score 24 first-half points. The offense moved up and down the field at will against a respectable Kansas City defense. The Bears defensive backups held their own against what is projected to be a top-five offense in Kansas City that features Pro- Bowl players Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce. After giving up a touchdown on their opening drive, the defense held the Chiefs starting offense to just two field goals the rest of the time they were in the game.
In his post-game press conference following the game, Nagy met with media and firmly stood by his decision to rest his starters answering every question thoroughly and directly. The second result of the decision will not be determined until the final of the Bears first game of the season against the Green Bay Packers. If quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and the starting offense impress, Nagy will have won the debate. If the Bears quarterback struggles, the decision will have the heavy backlash.
Kevin White could be a massive sleeper for the Bears
Fourth-year wide receiver Kevin White flashed in Saturday’s game as he caught the first touchdown of his career. The former seventh overall pick for the Bears in 2015, has only played in four and a half games in his three seasons with the team due to injuries. Saturday, White caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from Chase Daniels in the first quarter. The way in which White got open was impressive as he beat a seasoned, veteran cornerback in Orlando Scandrick and had five yards of separation when he made the catch.
White has played well during the pre-season as Nagy’s coaching staff has given the embattled wide receiver every opportunity to be a main contributor to the starting offense. Against the Broncos last week, he drew a 25-yard defensive pass interference call after beating his defender deep.
The biggest question is whether or not White can stay healthy for a full season. If he can he could be heavily targeted as an opposing defense will most likely look to double team wide receiver Allen Robinson when the season begins.
Ryan Pace has achieved one of his goals
When the Bears hired general manager Ryan Pace following the historically bad 2014 season, one of his main goals was to overhaul the team’s roster. When former general manager Phil Emery was fired, the Bears roster was viewed as one of the worst in the league as it not only lacked talent but depth also. It has taken nearly four seasons, but it looks like now that Pace has accomplished that objective.
He has to rebuild both the defense and offense providing it with young stars at important positions. The quality of the Bears depth was on display as Pace’s draft picks and free agents played well against a quality Chiefs team. Players like Javon Wims, Roy Robertson-Harris, Jonathan Bullard, John Timu, and more all had solid performances on Saturday. Depth is essential to quality NFL teams, and it appears that Pace has returned that depth to a Bears team that was without it for several years.