The Chicago Bears made the unconventional decision to rest their starters for Saturday’s preseason dress rehearsal against the Kansas City Chiefs. Head coach Matt Nagy was happy with the way his team had practiced and was confident in his decision to keep them healthy for week one.
People forget that the Los Angeles Rams did the same exact thing last year, while the Green Bay Packers did it against the Oakland Raiders on Friday night. We could see this become more common among other NFL teams.
The Chiefs played their starters well into the third quarter against the second and third units of the Bears, who turned some heads on Saturday. With that being said, it’s important that we look at individual performances and usage when accessing the preseason. Wins and losses don’t mean much in football games that don’t count in the win and loss column.
Here are four takeaways from Saturday’s win.
1. Wims, White Impress
Behind Chase Daniel, the second-team offense for the Bears was outstanding in the first half. The same could be said for wide receivers, Kevin White and Javon Wims. White hauled in his the first touchdown of his Bears career after pulling off a nasty double move in CB Orlando Scandrick. White finished the day with two catches for 33-yards and that touchdown.
Seventh-round draft pick Javon Wims had his second solid performance of the preseason on Saturday. Wims exploded, catching four passes for 114-yards and a touchdown. He locked up a spot on the 53 man roster with his big game against the Chiefs.
Both Wims and White should make the Bears roster. As things sit today, expect the Bears to keep Robinson, Gabriel, Miller, Wims, White, and Bellamy as their sixth wide receiver for 2018. It’s amazing the overhaul that has gone on at the position in just one offseason.
There were a few players that stuck out on defense for the Bears on Saturday. In terms of rushing the passer, it was Isaiah Irving. Irving had a promising opening game for the Bears but fizzled after that. He was back creating pressure against the Chiefs.
Irving only had one sack on Saturday, but he was able to create pressure throughout the day. That’s important considering the lack of depth at the edge rusher position for the Bears. General manager Ryan Pace would be foolish not to make a move to address the position before the start of the regular season.
3. Offensive Line Solid
For the better part of the first half, Chase Daniel had time to throw thanks to his offensive line. James Daniels was the starter at center for the second-team unit that had a great day in the pass blocking department. The running game could have been better and Nagy would be the first person to tell you that.
In the second half, Daniels switched over to guard with Hroniss Grasu taking over at center. The offense was much more effective in the first half than the second because of the play by the O-line.
It also appears that Cody Whitehair will begin the season as the team’s starting center over Daniels. My money is Daniels taking over the position sometime before the regular season ends, but clearly, the Bears feel confident enough for Whitehair to start week one.
4. Nagy was Right
There was some backlash to Nagy’s decision to rest his starters in the team’s “dress rehearsal” preseason game. People were describing this move as something that has never been done before, which is false. The Los Angeles Rams actually did the same thing last preseason, while the Green Bay Packers sat all of their starters on Friday night.
Nagy may be onto something here. Don’t be surprised if sitting starters becomes more of a common occurrence in the preseason in the future.
It was relieving being able to watch the Bears play a football game knowing that none of the major starters could suffer a major injury. The decision was based on the importance of week one’s game.
Nagy spoke about that after Saturday’s victory.
“If we win that game against Green Bay, trust me, it wasn’t because we didn’t play 25 (plays today), and if we lose it, it’s the same thing. I’ll promise you that.”
One of the concerns about resting the starters was around QB Mitch Trubisky not getting enough reps. Again, Nagy had a perfect response to the doubters.
“We’re at almost 2000 snaps in practice. … For somebody telling me 25-30 reps is going to make (Mitch Trubisky) better Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, it’s not going to happen.”
For the fans, Nagy did what’s best for his team in the long run.
“I’m doing what’s best for them, and I’m doing what’s best for them because I’m going to have us in the right spot for Week 1. They may not feel it today, but hopefully, they feel it Week 1. Hopefully.”
The Bears should be healthy when they face-off against the Packers on Sunday night football. That is something that hasn’t been the case for three or four years now. Hell, even Nagy’s mentor Andy Reid thought it was a good move.
“Probably smart on his part,” Reid said.
Take a wild guess who got today's game ball…
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) August 25, 2018
Follow Nick on Twitter–Feature Photo Credit: Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune