Bears coach Matt Nagy says Mitchell Trubisky, starters ready despite sitting in preseason game

CHICAGO -- Matt Nagy believes Mitchell Trubisky is ready to start the season, despite the fact that the new Bears head coach made the rare decision to sit the second-year quarterback -- and the rest of his team's starters -- during Saturday's 27-20 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, the team's fourth preseason game.

Nagy brushed off the idea that Trubisky needed more game snaps at this point in the Bears' preseason.

"I hear it, but I don't believe it right now in regards to where we're at," Nagy said. "We're at almost 2,000 snaps right now in practice. Team snaps and OTAs 'til now we're at 2,000 snaps. And so for somebody to tell me that 25 to 30 reps [in a preseason game] is going to go ahead and make him a better player Week 1, Week 2, Week 3 is ... it's not going to happen. This offense does take time; it doesn't mean that for him he can't be successful, but 25 to 30 plays regardless of just Mitch, we've had a lot of reps, and we get quality reps in practice. I understand it.

"But for me, I need to do what's best for our team and for where we're at, and I understand sometimes that can affect fans. But trust me, the thing I'm trying to do is do the best thing for our fans -- and that's have our guys ready to go in Week 1."

Trubisky and many other regulars did not play in the Hall of Fame Game against the Baltimore Ravens earlier this month. Trubisky, who is not expected to play in Thursday's preseason finale at home against the Buffalo Bills either, is 11-for-18 for 94 yards, a touchdown and an interception in his two preseason games this year.

Nagy noted that Trubisky has become even more comfortable with his receivers throughout training camp, while being able to see protections and recognize different defenses.

"I'm comfortable with where he's at," the coach said.

Nagy said he didn't let his players know about the decision not to play the starters until Friday. He said the "heavy reps" in practice -- "a lot of times where our guys are flying around and giving everything they got" -- contributed to the move.

"Forget all the risk/reward stuff; it's health-wise. Where are they? And we have some guys that are tired," Nagy said. "Inevitably, I want our guys to be ready to go, 100 percent health-wise for that Week 1 Packers game, and that's as simple as it gets. So they didn't know that, and they didn't find out until [Friday]."

Nagy, who served on Chiefs coach Andy Reid's staff both in Kansas City and Philadelphia, called his former boss earlier in the week to let him know about the plan.

"The last thing I wanted was for him to see that all of the sudden we show up out on the field and we got our twos out there," Nagy said. "That's not going to happen, I'm not going to do that, and I let him know just out of pure respect. He's the very first person that I called to tell. So I felt a lot better when I did that, and I know how he is. He respected that and appreciated that."

Nagy made it clear that the decision to sit his starters, in what would have been the third game of the preseason for almost all of them, wasn't about setting a new direction in the league; the third preseason game is typically considered the starters' "dress rehearsal."

"This is just about us where we're at right now," he said. "We had five preseason games. And let me tell you something, I have no issue at all with five preseason games. I think, matter of fact, it's great. Because what we get to do is we get to check out the depth on our team ... for instance today, we got some twos in there that got to play against starters. That's invaluable.

"It could be different next year. If we have four games, then yeah, if I feel like the pulse of our team is in a different place as far as it is right now, I'll absolutely play those guys; and if I feel like they need to be calloused more or to be tougher, I'll do that."

Nagy understood why some fans would be upset after shelling out money for a game that traditionally showcases the team's starters.

"I completely understand. But second, I'm doing what's best for [the fans]. And I'm doing what's best for them, because I'm going to have us in the right spot for Week 1," Nagy said. "So, they may not feel it today, but hopefully, hopefully, they feel it Week 1. Hopefully. Or this year."

Bears backup quarterback Chase Daniel, who was 15-for-18 for 198 yards and two touchdowns against the Chiefs, understood Nagy's decision.

"I actually liked it," Daniel said. "As a backup -- I'm not only speaking for myself, I'm speaking for other people -- your job is to come in and play. And you don't always know when you're going to play. It might be injury, it might be somebody getting hurt the day before in practice; that guy has to step up. So, I actually liked what he did, holding off telling us. I found out about 8:10 a.m. [Friday]."

Nagy said that while he discussed the plan with his staff, the decision was ultimately his.

"We've worked so hard as a staff, as players; we've put in so much time that's not seen," Nagy said. "And so we're just at a spot right now -- we're lucky to be where we're at. I love the growth of where we're at as a team and as a family. I feel strongly that when we go into Week 1, that basically those 25 to 30 plays [in Saturday's game] is not going to sway [what we do] one way or another. It's really not.

"So if we win that game against Green Bay, trust me, it wasn't because we didn't play 25 [snaps today]. And if we lose it, it's the same thing. I promise you that."