Chicago Bears coaches and players spoke on conference calls before practice Thursday as they prepare to face the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
Here are three things we heard.
1. Matt Nagy called the onside kick that helped the Cowboys pull off a miraculous comeback victory over the Falcons ‘a brilliant move.’
The play has dominated headlines in Atlanta this week after several Falcons players froze while watching Dallas Cowboys kicker Greg Zuerlein’s spinning kick. The ball eventually traveled 10 yards on the ground, and the Cowboys recovered it, setting up Zuerlein’s winning 46-yard field goal in a 40-39 victory in Arlington, Texas.
“It’s such a unique way to do an onside kick that it’s so unexpected,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said. “It was just a brilliant move by them to set that up with the onside kick. To all of us, when you’re watching it on TV, it’s like, just jump on the ball or get it. It seems so simple, right? But when you’re in the moment and all of a sudden a thousand rules are going through your head as to how to handle this — and what did my coach tell me to do, what are the rules, and what if I do this, what if I do that? — all that happens in less than, like, two seconds. So it’s just a very unique situation that was fortuitous for Dallas and unlucky for Atlanta.”
Falcons coaches have said their players knew the rules. But they were stopped by not knowing if the ball would travel 10 yards and worried about not fielding it cleanly and allowing the Cowboys to recover it.
Nagy and special teams coordinator Chris Tabor said they of course are using the film as a teaching moment.
“It’s something that every team across the NFL is going to use to help make sure that it doesn’t happen to them,” Nagy said. “But I’m quick to not judge Atlanta in that situation.”
2. Bears running backs David Montgomery and Cordarrelle Patterson shared their admiration for Gale Sayers.
Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers, known as one of the greatest Bears of all time, died Tuesday at age 77.
Current Bears running backs David Montgomery and Cordarrelle Patterson are well aware of his feats. Montgomery said he has learned a lot about Sayers and Walter Payton since joining the Bears last year and admires Sayers' talent and hard work.
“Gale Sayers is probably the must fluid runner I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” Montgomery said. “I’ve never seen somebody be able to change direction as fast as he can change direction and make it look as smooth as he does.”
Patterson said he saw the news of Sayers' death when he was in a special teams meeting Wednesday and immediately felt for his family.
“He said something about all he needed is 18 inches,” Patterson said. “I was like — that’s crazy. That means you can’t tackle him. You get in the way, he’s going to make you miss. … I feel like in this day and age, he could’ve played in this league. I don’t think I could’ve played back then. The linemen were my size trying to block. I’m not having that.”
3. Matt Nagy has been sending game footballs and thank-you notes to his rookies' colleges.
The Tulane football team posted on Twitter this week photos of a game ball and note they received from Matt Nagy thanking them for “recruiting, training and developing” rookie wide receiver Darnell Mooney.
Nagy said the Bears have done this all three of his years in Chicago after he and general manager Ryan Pace discussed the idea.
“It’s just a small little way to thank them for allowing us to be able to enjoy the kids they helped raise and grow during their times at the university,” Nagy said. “That’s what it’s all about here. When they leave these schools, they’re still part of the family. … It’s just to know you have that connection.”
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