The Chicago Bears kicked off training camp by trotting Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy out to the media today. Their first press conference of the season took place in front of reporters for the first time since 2019.
The veteran players continue to trickle in to Halas Hall as today is their day to report to camp. Meanwhile, the rookies have already been in the building since Saturday. In fact, some reported even earlier than that. Once everyone reports to Halas Hall and physicals wrap up, training camp practices can officially begin.
Nevertheless, while the veterans were reporting the General Manager and Head Coach addressed the media. There was a lot of talk and plenty of noteworthy items from those remarks. Here are some of the key takeaways from today's press conference.
Ryan Pace addressed the Bears vaccination progress. Pace said he believes the team met the 85% vaccination criteria with more coming in, which is an encouraging development considering the NFL's new rules regarding COVID-19.
Matt Nagy mentioned earlier in the offseason that he believes the entire coaching staff will be fully vaccinated as well.
The hottest story of the offseason was the Bears drafting Justin Fields. Several questions directed at Pace and Nagy had to do with the rookie quarterback. Their answers continue to validate the belief that they may have finally gotten it right at the quarterback position. Pace started it off by praising Fields for his confidence.
"He just has a natural confidence to him. A natural inner confidence that comes with with the success he's had."
- Ryan Pace on Justin Fields
Next, Matt Nagy discussed how impressed he was with how Fields has come back after OTAs. Specifically, in regards to how he handles coming in and out of the huddle and his knowledge and comfort with the offense. "You can see he did his homework", Nagy said.
Therefore, the reporters pressed Pace and Nagy further about Fields' shot at winning the starting job and what a great preseason would mean.
Nagy addressed his handling of the preseason snap count and mentioned how he's taking a more aggressive approach. So it seems the starters will get plenty of playing time and Fields will see his fair share of snaps as well. This is a significant development considering Nagy sat all his starters for nearly all of the 2019 preseason.
Finally, the fourth-year head coach reasoned that he had Justin Fields listed second on the depth chart because of the number of reps he'd get as the backup behind Dalton. Essentially, Nagy left the door open to the notion that Fields could still become the starter when Week 1 rolls around.
Eddie Goldman Update
At the time of the press conference, Eddie Goldman had not yet reported to camp, which made Pace's response to a question regarding Goldman's status really weird. Moreover, Pace pretty much claimed he didn't know whether or not the defensive tackle would actually report today.
However, Pace did mention that he expects Goldman to report to training camp. He also noted that "by all indications he's in good shape" and will be good to go when practices begin.
Roquan Smith later confirmed that Eddie Goldman did report to camp today.
Of course, it's not a Bears press conference without any mention of the defense. Pace and Nagy did their best to address the state of the defensive unit. Pace claimed that Sean Desai reminded him of Vic Fangio. Notably, when Desai says something it reminds him of Fangio. Nevertheless, questions regarding the CB2 spot arose. Pace addressed it by saying that Kindle Vildor has a legitimate chance to win that spot and that Vildor has that kind of ability. Meanwhile, new addition Desmond Trufant got a stamp of approval from Pace as well.
Additionally, Matt Nagy said the following about what he wants to see on defense during training camp:
"I want fumbles, interceptions, tipped passes. When they go to bed at night, just think about intercepting that football. We have to get takeaways this year."
- Matt Nagy on the Bears defense
Andy Dalton/Offensive Philosophy
Similarly, the Bears brass was asked about the offensive philosophy now that that the personnel has changed. Especially since the team added more speed at receiver. Nagy responded by saying the offensive philosophy would not change but they do have a plan for the speedy receivers and tight ends. Nagy also mentioned that he's not concerned about the lack of size at WR because they still have Allen Robinson, Javon Wims, and Riley Ridley.
As for Andy Dalton, Pace took the lead in answering questions pertaining to the quarterback. "You can feel his experience and you can feel his experience," Pace said. He went on to elaborate further on the importance Dalton's veteran presence:
"How he operates in the huddle, how he is in the building. He's a confident guy because of the things he went through and our players feed off that."
- Ryan Pace on Andy Dalton
Futures of Pace and Nagy
Now that Justin Fields in the building, Pace and Nagy were asked if their contract situation will have any impact on when Fields plays. Immediately, Pace shot down that notion. He responded by saying, "You talking about our own contracts? No. Not at all. What's best for this organization. Always."
Nonetheless, it seems like Nagy and Pace might have time on their side due to the selection of Justin Fields. Despite their futures seemingly being in jeopardy, Nagy dropped this nugget of information:
The fourth-year head coach was back up to his usual shenanigans. Nagy resorted to his usual coach speak and even mentioned that Giannis Antetokounmpo's quote about the past, present, and future was going up on all four of his kids' walls. Nevertheless, he said his message to the team this year is to live in the moment.
"What I'm doing personally and what our our message is this year, for our team, is about being in the moment right now."
- Matt Nagy
Furthermore, Nagy said he is really comfortable being a head coach when discussing his growth while calling the shots over the past three years.
Anthony Miller Trade
Ryan Pace also addressed the recent trade that sent Anthony Miller to the Houston Texans. He mentioned that he was in talks with the Texans all summer, and once the fifth-round pick was on the table he pulled the trigger on the deal. He also noted the success the Bears have enjoyed in the fifth round of the draft, which made it easier to trade Miller.
- Now that Cordarrelle Patterson is gone, Nagy was asked how the kick returning duties will be handled. He responded by saying that Chris Tabor was in charge of that area and identified Khalil Herbert as one player who will battle for that job.
- Nagy was asked about the possibility of David Montgomery getting 20 carries per game. "I think it's very doable," he responded. Bears fans will believe it when they see it.
- A question about depth at left tackle arose, and it was noted that Teven Jenkins' primary competition will be Elijah Wilkinson. The battle for left tackle will ensue during training camp and preseason action.
- Ryan Pace briefly discussed outside linebacker Robert Quinn, saying Quinn arrived to Halas Hall early for camp and that they feel good about him right now.
- Pace also touched on the benefits of having training camp at Halas Hall over Bourbonais.
Bears fans, training camp and the preseason is an action-packed time. There will be plenty of storylines between now and the start of the regular season, and we have you covered here at On Tap Sports Net. You can find all the important training camp and preseason dates right here.