Last night against the Rams, it took three quarters for Matt Nagy’s offense to reach the red zone. Nick Foles’ underthrown ball to a covered Allen Robinson drew a pass interference call, giving the Bears a first-and-10 at the Rams’ 15-yard line.
After Demetrius Harris’ 6-yard reception on first down, the Bears were nine yards away from the end zone. To help the offense score their first touchdown on the night, Nagy went with Harris as the lone tight end on the second-and-4 play. And then the third-year play-caller and head coach called a designed rollout to the left. Foles forced a throw into double coverage and was intercepted.
Not on the play was Jimmy Graham — who has four red-zone touchdowns this season — which is tied for the third-most in the league. Also on the sidelines was Cole Kmet, who caught two passes for 45 yards, including a 38-yard reception, earlier in the game.
Even if the right personnel were on the field, the play itself set the Bears up for failure. Foles is a pocket passer, but with the field condensing, Nagy took the veteran right-handed quarterback out of his element and rolled him out left. The interception is on Foles, but he shouldn’t have been in that position in the first place.
The Bears would go on to lose 24-10 and drop to 5-2 on the season. And this primetime defeat would go down as another game where the offense failed miserably to do much of anything. Take away Eddie Jackson’s fumble recovery for a touchdown and this is the third time Nagy’s team has only scored a field goal.
The other two times happened in primetime matchups last season: Week 16’s 26-3 loss against the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football and Week 1’s 10-3 loss against the Packers to kick off the Bears’ Centennial Year.
There isn’t one solution that will solve all of the Bears’ offensive problems, but the team can start by relinquishing Nagy’s play-calling abilities.
In the fourth quarter of last night’s game, ESPN’s Brian Griese revealed some interesting news that Foles brought up during a production meeting on Sunday night.
“We were talking to Nick Foles yesterday, and he said, ‘You know, sometimes play calls come in and I know that I don’t have time to execute that play call. You know, I’m the one out here getting hit. Sometimes the guy calling the plays, Matt Nagy, he doesn’t know how much time there is back here,’” Griese said. “So that’s something that they have to get worked out.”
Nagy and Foles were asked about the comment after the game, and Foles said it was “miscommunication” between him and Griese.
There seemed to be plenty of miscommunication for the Bears’ offense at SoFi Stadium. Of course, it wasn’t just Foles’ red zone interception that left people questioning why Nagy was still calling plays.
On fourth-and-1 from the Bears’ 34-yard line, Nagy went to one of his bad habits, using Cordarrelle Patterson in the backfield instead of David Montgomery on a short-yardage situation.
Nagy called a toss play to the short side of the field with Patterson eight yards behind the line of scrimmage. On the play, 6-foot-2, 221-pound wide receiver Javon Wims failed to block 6-foot-5, 262-pound linebacker Terrell Lewis.
Where was Graham or Kmet? Again, the play call and the personnel made no sense.
But it wasn’t just this Monday night debacle against the Rams that should warrant a change for the play-calling responsibilities. Nagy’s offense has looked out of sync this entire season, regardless of who was playing quarterback.
The blame for the offensive struggles can’t be placed solely on Mitch Trubisky or the offensive coaches that were fired going into this 2020 season. Last night proved that.
Without the fourth-quarter comebacks against the Lions and Falcons, this offense is even worse than the bottom five unit that the stats reflect.
Nagy’s play-calling has been a topic of conversation since the first day he was hired as the Bears head coach. Remember the 21-3 lead the Chiefs had over the Titans in 2017’s AFC wild-card game? Kansas City was shutout the entire second half and lost 22-21.
The 2018 season, which featured multiple defensive players playing on offense and more importantly a 12-4 record, hid a lot of the issues. But 2019 exposed Nagy and his unit’s deficiencies.
There is no telling if Bill Lazor or Dave Ragone would be better at calling plays, but 39 games is a big enough sample size to see Nagy isn’t the answer.
Changes need to be made, and it should start with handing over the call sheet.