It was in 1919 that the Bears were born in Decatur, Illinois. So to mark the start of their 100th season of football the Bears had general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy hold their annual pre-training camp press conference at the Decatur Civic Center Sunday.
Nagy knows the honeymoon period that went with him being a new head coach last year is over. Now he and the players need to take the next step and build on what they did last season when they went 12-4. Nagy also knows one of his main jobs is making sure the Bears maintain their hunger to win and guard against a letdown.
“Make sure that they (the players) understand that everything we did last year means nothing,” Nagy said. “What it did is it helped our culture but it means zero for the 2019 season, but we talked about it. Don’t get complacent. Remember the hurt.”
The hurt from an oh-so-close, double-doink playoff loss to the Eagles in January. The Bears’ now-former kicker, Cody Parkey was largely to blame after missing a 43-yard field goal with 10 seconds left in the 4th quarter.
Since then, the Bears have attempted to fix the kicker issue by signing Eddy Pinero and Elliott Fry, but neither one has ever kicked in a regular season NFL game. Pace make it clear Sunday that the Bears will continue to keep an eye on the waiver wire to see what other kickers might become available between now and the start of the season.
The Bears also added some draft picks who they believe will help then. One is running back David Montgomery out of Iowa State and another is receiver Riley Ridley from Georgia. For the most part though, the Bears have kept their team in tact. They’re keeping a successful core group of guys and they return a defense that ranked third overall in the NFL last season.
“We have a lot of young players that are all still getting better, and a lot of these guys are talented players that had success last year but are still improving,” Pace said. “Still incrementally getting better. We’re excited. We’re excited about what we have going right now. We’re excited about our staff and this is just day one in that process.”
The Bears will report to Bourbonnais for training camp on Thursday. Their first practice will be held on Friday at 3:00.