CANTON, OH – Technically, this is a bit of a historic night for the man who will lead the Bears onto Benson Hall of Fame Stadium on Thursday night.
This will mark the first time that Matt Nagy has been in charge of an NFL team in a game. Again, it’s only a technicality, since the preseason isn’t really the time when the clock is started on a career. That will be September 9th when they open the regular season at night in Green Bay in front of a national audience.
Thursday those same eyes will be on the Bears as they face the Ravens on night in the annual Hall of Fame game – the first for the franchise since 2005. It’s one of five in the preseason for the team.
So, in essence, Nagy’s going to get some seasoning being the head coach before things get real in about a month.
“There is a test for all of us coaches to see how we want to go about it, especially for me with time management, game management, how you want to do that stuff,” said Nagy of coaching on Thursday. “But as far as scheme and game plan, this is about the players and letting them play so they can show off their talents to us, so we know who we want to keep and don’t want to keep.”
Hence the focus will be on the backups just as much as the starters, who aren’t likely to see much playing time since the team still has four preseason games remaining. Battles for the final roster spots start in this contest and continue through late August before the final roster cutdowns are made.
Some fans might be disappointed not to see Mitchell Trubisky take control of Nagy’s new offense, but even if he did, don’t expect master strategy till September. Nagy’s keeping things simple over the next month as he lets
“Considering that you don’t really do any game planning at all for pretty much the whole preseason. Maybe one game in there you sneak in a game plan,” said Nagy.
It does beg the question of whether it’s an advantage to have to put a team on the field for another game that doesn’t count. More opportunities for game reps are there for some of the younger players but so is the better chance of an injury.
“There is a fine balance of both of those, being able to understand which way you want to go,” said Nagy of an extra preseason game. “Right now I feel like our plan as a coaching staff of who we want to play and don’t want to play – I feel really good about it.”
After all, he’s got some time to figure it all out before things get real in Green Bay.