No matter which way you spin it, it appears the worst possible scenario has come to fruition this season for the Monsters of the Midway.
As of now, Chicago’s 2019 postseason aspirations seem far out of the realm of possibility. Now at 3-4 after dropping three straight, the Bears are dead last in a vastly-improved NFC North. While we’re not yet even into the second half of the season, it’s hard to imagine enough of a turnaround to sneak into the playoffs with remaining matchups against the Eagles, Rams, Cowboys, Packers, Vikings and Chiefs.
There are plenty of fingers being pointed for the team’s recent string of mediocrity — Mitchell Trubisky, Eddy Pineiro, the offensive line and even the defense. However, no one should be more at blame than Bears’ head coach Matt Nagy.
Just one year after leading Chicago to a 12-4 record and rejuvenating a dormant offense (top-10 in points per game in 2018), this is a unit that has done a complete 180 under Nagy after coming into what was supposed to be “version 202” this season. It’s been anything but, as the Bears currently average just 18.3 points and 281.4 yards per game (both bottom-six in the league).
Sure, third-year signal-caller Trubisky has noticeably regressed and the offensive line has struggled, but it should be addressed that Nagy calling the shots surely hasn’t done this team any favors. From consistently abandoning the run to inept red-zone play-calling, the Bears’ offense has been downright atrocious.
Nagy’s questionable decision-making became as apparent as ever in Sunday’s inexcusable loss to the Chargers. Down one point with just under a minute to go, the Bears were driving the ball down the field and looked to be in a prime position to score — until Nagy stopped his team’s comeback effort dead in its tracks.
Although Trubisky was uninspiring (once again) throughout the game, he put his team into a position to win in crunch-time with an 11-yard scramble down to the Chargers’ 21-yard line with 53 seconds remaining. Instead of using the existing clock to pound the ball and get an extra chunk of yards, the 2018 AP Coach of the Year opted to knee the ball in order to set up a 41-yard field goal attempt from the inexperienced Pineiro.
With rookie ball-carrier, David Montgomery rolling in this one (147 total yards and a touchdown), why not continue to feed their workhorse back to get the ball closer? This would have been a low-risk, high-reward type of decision (as history has proven), but that didn’t sway Nagy’s recurring utter lack of trust in his players. In today’s NFL, a 41-yarder is no chip shot, and it backfired on them — a fitting narrative to 2019 thus far.
In the post-game presser, the Bears’ head coach was reluctant to admit that he maybe should’ve went about things differently.
I have zero thought of running the ball and taking the chance of fumbling the football. They know you’re running the football, so you lose three or four yards, so that wasn’t even in our process as coaches to think about that. – Matt Nagy
Nagy continued to reiterate his point by saying, “Zero thought of running the football, zero thought of throwing the football.” He noted the possibility of losing the ball or taking a sack in the instance of passing the ball. While throwing it probably isn’t the way to go, it’s tough to defend the decision to not even consider the run. On Twitter, retired Bears’ long-snapper Patrick Mannely made an excellent point.
I don’t understand the thought of not running the ball before the field goal attempt. Yes, they know you are going to run the ball. Call your best goal line run and trust your offense. It might just pop for a big gain just like your kicker might miss. #Bears
— Patrick Mannelly (@PatrickMannelly) October 27, 2019
At this point, it’s brutally clear that Nagy doesn’t trust his offense to get the job done, whether it be Trubisky or the rest of his supporting cast. It’s an even worse look for him one week after refusing to relinquish play-calling duties then continuing to defend his poor thought process. On a team with as much talent as the Bears possess, this simply cannot be the case if they have any future hopes to contend.
In times of success, it’s easy to look past these kinds of hiccups from the head coach, but in times of turmoil, these types of decisions are thrust directly into the spotlight. Instead of continually declining to admit the obvious, perhaps it’s time for Nagy to take a good look at himself in the mirror.
While fans have every right to still believe in their head coach as a locker room leader, it appears that Nagy needs a reality-check as an offensive-coordinator. At just 41 years old, it can be easy to forget that he’s still an extremely-young head coach and will have plenty of mistakes to learn from in his tenure with Chicago.
Now, it’s just a matter of Nagy actually learning from these mistakes. In order for the Navy and Orange to further progress, it’s crucial that adjustments be made.
Being amenable, not stubborn, will be the key for Nagy moving forward. Down the stretch of what looks like a lost season, his true character should come to the forefront.