Chicago Bears: Matt Nagy could destroy the NFL preseason

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

It’s not like the Chicago Bears to start a trend. But I hope this is one that leads to a long overdue fundamental change.

I’ll be honest with you, dear reader. I try and consume the least amount of preseason football possible. It’s bad for your health, and sitting down to watch it says something about your life that whiskey isn’t going to solve (which is saying something). As you get older, you kind of get in on the joke and you can enjoy a few minutes here and there as the surrealist joke that it is.

You see the starters chuckling on the sideline for about 75 percent of the game. Mostly they’re wondering why they’re still wearing pads, or even put them on in the first place. It’s like they’re play-acting being football players. And after all that inactivity, they suddenly become aware of just how silly they look in all that.

Meanwhile, the coaches are pretending — and they are pretending — that they’re just as intense about this 2nd-and-6 with seven future bouncers on the field as they will be about a 3rd-and-2 in December with a playoff spot on the line. Coaches can never show any humor or levity, for fear some journalist or fan who lost touch with human feeling somewhere around 1998 is going to accuse them of being “soft” and not dedicated to the cause. But deep down, they know.

All of this is around some truly terrible football, played by guys who will regale you with the “time they almost made it” story at the bar in 6-to-10 years, right before asking if you’ll get the next round. Maybe one day you’ll see them putting up 275 on the bench press at your gym and someone will tell you they went to training camp with the Bills, right before you see them put on their security shirt in the locker room.

But the third (or in this case, fourth for the Chicago Bears, thanks to that tech week thing in Canton) preseason game is one I’ll usually sit down for. It’s a good way to start to get into football rhythm, see what the new players look like in Bears colors, and maybe check out what the training camp upstart looks like that people have spilled far too much ink about.

With Saturday’s game also being at noon, this was a real chance for a dress rehearsal for me as to what Sundays are going to look like for four months.

And then I saw Chase Daniel jog out there, and was immediately confused. Did I have that flashback again where I lose a week? Did Mitch Trubisky get hurt and I missed the air raid sirens? I rarely consume pregame stuff, and especially in preseason. So off to Twitter I went…

…and what I found was first the quick news break that head coach Matt Nagy wasn’t going to play hi starters, followed by a tsunami of angry football media (redundant, I know) exclaiming what a mistake this was. How could football players get better by not playing football?!

My reaction: Let’s find out.

Preseason football, pretty much like every other preseason in sports, is one of the bigger scams going. It’s a reason for owners to cram in a couple more home dates charging nearly full price for a product that quite frankly is turning odd colors in the sun. And it’s unneeded.

These are not the players of yesteryear, who as soon as their season ended spent the next five months smoking, drinking, fighting, bleeding, puking, and showing up at some car dealership. These guys train year round, they don’t need to play their way into shape as those in the past did.

Secondly, only bad things happen in the preseason. Sure, some plucky go-hard linebacker or fullback might get himself on HBO because he cracked a starter in practice when the cameras were rolling and the coaches had to pretend to know his name for a few minutes. Maybe he even makes the team. Maybe, one day, you’ll even see him make a tackle on punt coverage in Week 7 when he has to be promoted from the practice squad when four other linebackers have their shin bones leave their body.

More likely, an important player is going to get hurt going through the motions on something that doesn’t matter. Your season has far better chance of being ruined in August than it does of being improved. Lose our quarterback, or left tackle, or defensive end, and where are you? That’s worth more than the 5-foot-8 Alcorn State grad who just loves it so much until he makes himself 5-foot-6 hitting a fullback in the flat.

The NFL is a copycat league. Teams immediately try to import whatever offense/defense just won the previous season. Ideas catch on, and burn out, quickly. But some stick.

So if the Bears go on to have any success this year, and continue this policy and have more, more and more teams will employ it. And if enough, or all, teams are simply putting out janitors and the generally bewildered for entire preseason games, everyone will stop watching and going. And then we can reduce this ridiculousness to the one or two games it should be anyway.

I’ll follow you to the gates of hell on this, Matt Nagy.