Matt Nagy may not know whether he can coach the Bears in Week 8 until Sunday morning. Nagy is currently in the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols after testing positive for the virus earlier this week. In the event that he can’t coach, special teams coordinator Chris Tabor would assume his head coaching duties.
Regardless of whether or not Nagy is cleared to coach against the 49ers, he believes his team, and other coaches are well prepared to succeed.
“They've done a really good job at really adapting and understanding what we need to do per the league and how we go through this,” Nagy said. “The coaches have been great with the一 there's constant communication with whatever it is, whether it's Zoom meetings, whether it's the day-to-day stuff, they've been great with that. And I've been able to jump around to different rooms via the Zoom when we have those Zoom meetings and just talk to the guys and see the guys. It's definitely not the same as being there in person, but at least I'm able to do that. Again, big picture as to where we're at, yeah, we understand. We have a mature team that knows how important it is that we get back on track, so that's been the message all week long.”
Nagy will need to return two negative COVID-19 tests, 24 hours apart, before he’s cleared to rejoin the team. In the meantime, he’s trying to help Tabor as much as he can from afar.
“We’ve been discussing throughout the week just different scenarios and different things so I can help him out as much as possible,” Nagy said. “Some things he might not think of on game day, whether it’s with the coaches, whether it’s with the players, mindset of anything game-situation wise that we want to go into in this particular game.”
Tabor also ran the show for a bit while Nagy was out as a close contact at the beginning of rookie minicamp this summer. But running practices at rookie minicamp is a different beast from leading a team on Sunday. But Tabor downplayed the idea that his added responsibilities would be a big hurdle to overcome.
“If that comes to fruition, I’ll be honest with you, I run a team meeting every day,” Tabor said. “And I know in the special teams world, it is a team meeting. I deal with every player on this football team, from the quarterbacks to the defensive linemen to the offensive linemen. I meet with them every [day]. To me, that’s no different. Meeting and leading guys, that’s not a big deal. With regards to that other stuff, if that ever came up, you’ve always been preparing yourself your whole life to do that, so I’ve watched a lot of football games and have thought about those types of things, so if it ever did come up, put yourself in a good position to help the team.”
His players agree.
“I’ve gotten to know him really well since I’ve been here,” said Alec Ogletree. “Obviously I’ve been playing some special teams and I’ve been in the meetings with him. And I think he’s handling this situation really well. I’m glad he’s able to step in for us and help us in a time of need and be that guy for us.”
“There’s no dropoff really,” said Khalil Herbert. “I feel like we’re a self-running machine. It’s the same thing. Coach Tabes does a great job of getting us going. He runs the whole practice like it’s special teams. He’s screaming and getting everybody going. It’s pretty much the same. Guys doing the same thing.”