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A ‘sloppy’ success: Bears coach Matt Nagy wants to be ‘real’ with his players

Bears coach Matt Nagy addresses reporters at training camp. (Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times)

BOURBONNAIS — Bears coach Matt Nagy turned what he called a “sloppy” day of practice — particularly for his offense — into a sentimental one.

Nagy adjusted his training-camp schedule Saturday night so that the team could watch former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher give his Hall of Fame enshrinement speech.

“One of Brian’s messages last night was about competition and all he wanted to do was have people compete,” Nagy said Sunday. “That was our message last night to the guys — let’s come out and compete with some live practice today, and they did that.”

Training camp continues to -provide glimpses into Nagy’s coaching style, motivational techniques and approach to accountability.

It was important for Nagy that his players see and hear from -Urlacher in person before they played the Ravens in the Hall of Fame Game, but also that they witnessed Urlacher’s emotions during his speech. Nagy views the organization’s history, particularly the team’s legends, as motivation.

“I thought it was important for our guys to understand the significance of somebody standing up there at that podium with that jacket on and just talking about the Bears like he did,” Nagy said.

Even more important is that Nagy expresses what’s truly on his mind. He’s not shy about calling out his team publicly if needed. He’s not apprehensive about the word “sloppy” making headlines.

Nagy’s candidness stands out compared to his predecessors. John Fox said little publicly, preferring to use sayings and clichés instead. Marc Trestman, meanwhile, confounded some of his own players by telling the media that bad practices were “good” ones.

On Saturday, Nagy criticized his offense before he was even asked about it.

“This isn’t an offense where you can skip days,” he said. “You got to stay in it, stay on your details. Otherwise, you come out and have a sloppy practice, and I thought -[Saturday] was a little sloppy.”

The message was intended for everyone on offense, starting with second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky.


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“Trust me, anything I tell you, I tell them in certain cases like that,” Nagy said. “With all due respect to everybody, if I’m not real with them, then they won’t respect me. They get that. They’re big boys.

“It wasn’t just sloppy [with] the players. I thought all around we were all sloppy, coaches, too, all of us. We’re all one, and they bounced back today, so that was a plus.”

Trubisky, in particular, responded. He wasn’t perfect, but Nagy highlighted the -anticipation and accuracy he showed in completing certain throws.

It included leading tight ends Trey Burton and Dion Sims over the middle for completions with linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski trailing in coverage and eliminating underneath options.

Trubisky’s growing connection with rookie receiver Anthony -Miller also has become a daily -highlight of camp.

“There were some tight -windows, and [Trubisky] hit a lot of those,” Nagy said.

Third-string quarterback Tyler Bray said being called sloppy was interpreted as a direct challenge by offensive players.

“No one wants to get called sloppy or [that] they did a terrible job or anything negative,” Bray said. “I mean, this is our profession. We want to execute every play like we’re the best. And so when you get called sloppy, it kind of does something to you.”

So did seeing Nagy’s animated reactions as he watched one-on-one drills between linebackers and tight ends/backs.

“When you juice it up a little bit, you get those guys going,” Nagy said. “I like it because both sides start getting after each other a -little bit. In the end, I wanted to have a winner.”

In the end, Nagy called off the drill. There wasn’t a winner, but he got what he wanted.

“Sometimes those periods, you’re just going through the motions and guys are trying to work on their fundamentals,” Nagy said. “But I want competition.”

Urlacher said something similar Saturday night.

Want your Bears training camp update without delay? Each day of summer practice, Sun-Times Bears’ beat writers Patrick Finley, Adam Jahns and Mark Potash will share exclusive insights on the workout and interviews in a livestream conversation 1 p.m. daily through Aug. 12. Catch their live analysis and ask questions on Twitter using the hashtag “#BearsBeatLive” or send them directly to @suntimes_sports. Also, follow Sun-Times Sports on Periscope to be notified of each live report.