Matt Nagy Panned for Making Justin Fields Throw ‘Intentional Interceptions’

Matt Nagy intentional interceptions

Getty Head coach Matt Nagy observes Chicago Bears training camp at Halas Hall.

Matt Nagy is definitely trying new things heading into his fourth season as head coach of the Chicago Bears. In a lighter practice on July 28, Nagy did something that raised eyebrows: He had his quarterbacks throw intentional interceptions.

In an appearance on ESPN 1000’s Waddle & Silvy, NFL insider Jeff Dickerson revealed some of the things he saw at the team’s first open practice of training camp, and co-hosts Tom Waddle and Marc Silverman couldn’t believe their ears. Waddle, who was a fan favorite when he played wide receiver for the Bears from 1989-94, was particularly aghast when he heard his former team’s current coach had his QBs throw picks on purpose.

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Nagy Incorporates Odd Interception Drills

To his credit, Nagy, who met with the media before practice Wednesday, told reporters in the room they may be seeing something a bit different when they witnessed drills that day.

“Today was a little different, and Nagy warned us that some of the drills today, the team stuff, was scripted in a way where the receivers were going to allow the defensive backs to make the interception,” Dickerson began, before Waddle interrupted him.

“What?” Waddle asked, sounding a tad incredulous. Dickerson, however, didn’t seem to think it was a serious offense by Nagy.

“This was just a little part of practice, OK, so I don’t want to — I mean, Andy Dalton threw a bomb to (Darnell) Mooney for a touchdown, then he threw a bomb to Marquise Goodwin for a touchdown. I think that’s when the defensive backs were kinda laying off a little bit. Beautiful throws, but I don’t want to get too excited about that or too low. The fact that Justin Fields had a period where he did not look very good … things were being done a little differently.”

Dickerson didn’t elaborate much after that, but after he went off the air, Waddle noted that in his experience as a player, he never saw drills close that resembled anything like what Dickerson had described.

“I’ve never heard of it. It may be a new thing,” Waddle said. “Maybe it’s a new thing that all the best coaches are doing. I have never heard: ‘OK, guys, we’re gonna go one-on-one here, and for the first 15 minutes of one-on-one, regardless of how well-covered you have that wide receiver, we’re gonna let the wide receiver make the catch. And then the next 15 minutes when we do one-on-one drills, we’re gonna let the ball be intercepted.’ I’ve never heard of that.”

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Is Nagy Hindering Fields’ Development?

Silverman then chimed in, trying to understand the mindset of a head coach asking a rookie quarterback he’s tasked to develop to throw interceptions.

“‘Justin, we know you’re the quarterback of the future and we’ve gotta develop you. I got a really good plan today. I want you to throw intentional interceptions … you see Jaylon Johnson over there? I want you to throw to him,'” Silverman said, emulating Nagy in jest.

For his part, this is how Nagy described it: “We’re gonna head out to this practice today and it’s gonna be a bunch of little team periods that are scripted for one side of the ball, so if you see some interceptions that are out there on offense here or there, some of this stuff is scripted just to get these guys moving around.”

Intentional picks just to “get guys moving around?” OK, coach.

Dickerson also noted the Bears were trying to pick up the intensity in practice by having a personnel member shouting at them through a megaphone, so it’s certainly looking a bit different around Halas Hall this year.

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