Part of the indoctrination of the American football fan is learning and internalizing the belief that football coaches by and large are jerks.
Big jerks, small jerks, jerks who’ve played the game, jerks who stumbled onto inventive schemes that allowed them to make an impact on the game that far surpassed anything they did on the field.
Paternalistic jerks, fatalistic jerks, holier than thou jerks, insensitive jerks, sarcastic jerks, obsessive jerks, believing themselves to be the smartest guy in the room jerks no matter what room they’re in.
Oh, yeah, foot fetishistic jerks too.
First year Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy still has time to reveal to us what kind of jerk he is, but he may actually be the rare find in coaching that actually isn’t a jerk yet. His time will likely come, but he certainly hasn’t stayed around “Gotham” long enough to be the villain, though he made his first withdrawal at the Bank of Goodwill this past weekend in deciding to sit most of his starters on both sides of the ball in the Bears’ preseason contest against Kansas City.
Whether you thought the sky was falling on the Bears’ plans for non-mediocrity due to this decision or if you believed everyone was overreacting and not thinking of the most important aspect of playing football in August (staying healthy) — opinion related to Nagy’s first stand as coach swelled to the level of breathlessness at times over the weekend and that can be tied to one thing: how important it is for everyone following and loving the Bears for the team to come out strong on Sept. 9 at Green Bay on a Sunday night opener where nationwide embarrassment could be on the menu given the Bears’ routine inability to rise to the occasion against the Packers.
It would seem that only Week 1 of the regular season would be the only week that could possibly be effected by such a decision as Nagy’s at this time, it just sucks that this year’s Week 1 had to be given such heft whereas if the Bears were playing Arizona or Atlanta again, they could come out looking like Glenbard West and Nagy would still have had as much benefit of the doubt on Sept. 10 as he had on Aug. 24.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid backs Bears’ Matt Nagy: ‘Probably smart on his part’ (Chicago Sun-Times)
What we saw on Aug. 26th, for what its worth, allowed Nagy to swag as much as his premature balding head could allow — a zippy offense that couldn’t help but engender more confidence in Chase Daniel as a back-up quarterback while also showing Kevin White and seventh round rookie pick Javon Wims as at least a keeper and a half in the back half of the Bears’ WR rotation.
There was execution from the offense and a lead through most of the time against a No. 1 (though not entirely alert) defense from Kansas City and they’re feeling the pain of exposure back in KC.
The defense, after a downer first drive that yielded a KC touchdown, settled in and arguably gave an even more encouraging performance, containing an explosive Chiefs offense pretty much until the fourth quarter when both sides were mixing it up with cut bait.
Above average effort was clearly there throughout for the Bears, who didn’t really play with their second- and third-stringers like they were just trying to hold onto jobs, there was an ease and confidence that seemed to permeate the roster and given how Nagy handled the first small swirl of controversy in his Bears tenure it would seem he himself is the most obvious source of that confidence.
After scant exposure of his starting units in their first three games of the pre-season, there was an expectation to see more of the likes of Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback than we’ve yet to see on the field under Nagy’s leadership. Plus there’s plenty of defensive talent like Roquan Smith, who hadn’t played any in-game snaps yet, and Akiem Hicks, who’s past month has had a stop and start feel to it due to injuries.
Of course, that last word in that last paragraph was what Nagy and his staff had to reckon with most throughout the past week. Injuries were an issue in the extended trip to Denver to engage in scrimmage practices and a full exhibition game and there was a chance for this still manageable issue to get out of control or tragic if Nagy approached this third “regular” exhibition like most football teams do year after year.
Beyond that, Nagy was confident after a productive week of practices and given his team’s extra workload in general in camp, wrought by playing the Hall of Fame game, called for an adjustment of personnel planning by the rookie coach, not a blind adhering of professional football training mores.
Traditionally, the third preseason game is where first-team talents are given the most time to play prior to the regular season. Whereas in games 1 and 2 the majority of starters play only a drive or two and in the final game the starters hardly play at all (that week being devoted more towards deciding the final spots on the 53-man roster before the last cuts are made from the mass of players brought into training camp) in game 3 we usually get the closest look at what a team is going to look like starting in September.
For many Nagy robbed Bears fans of that sneak peak but even before the game a vocal minority (likely minority, I really didn’t look any polling into the matter), mostly in the media, praised the move as smart and something a modern coach with his own brain would make. Just what reckoning this weekend’s decision could bring is still to be decided, but will it be a reckoning so much as a hiccup? A lesson learned by a first-time head coach?
What we know so far: Nagy can coach some guys up and he’s not treating the Chicago media like dopes, although we can so often seem like we’re asking for that treatment. Nagy is moving securely and speaking clearly, that’s not what jerks do. Do they beat the Packers, though? Maybe that depends on how you viewed Ditka and Lovie (in his early years at least).
If Nagy wants to follow in their footsteps, short of a being a jerk he at least has to be his own man. This weekend showed he’s capable of being that.
Follow Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and on Facebook under Regal Radio; Follow Kyle Means on Twitter @Wrk_Wrt