Bears

The Bears' blowout loss to New Orleans was a bad sign. Their lack of answers, and options, going forward may be worse.

The Bears' blowout loss to New Orleans was a bad sign. Their lack of answers, and options, going forward may be worse.

Matt Nagy’s postgame press conference, held in Soldier Field’s concrete belly after an embarrassing 36-25 loss to New Orleans, featured a little bit of everything. 

There were thousand-yard stares, a half-dozen abandoned statements, platitudes galore, and even a monologue on the media’s role in the Bears' lackluster start to the season. 

What wasn’t given, notably, was a reason for the Bears’ continued offensive struggles. Coming out of the bye and supposedly armed with a brand-new lease on running the ball, the Bears finished with 252 yards of total offense – much of it coming in garbage time. 

“I really thought our run game would be better,” Nagy said. “... early on, there just was not a lot there. So then you go to throw the ball a little bit and got a little bit going. The start of the third quarter, we had a fumble.

“You can say it’s one of those days, but for us, it’s been one of those weeks.” 

Nagy noted the lack of early running success as a reason for going so pass-heavy in the first half. They called runs on three consecutive first downs, for a combined three yards, to open the game.  After that, they would only hand the ball off four more times the rest of the afternoon. The seven total rushes set a franchise record for fewest ever. 

“It’s really simple math,” he said. “As a play caller, when it’s 2nd-and-9, 2nd-and-8, and you’re moving the ball throwing it, getting first downs throwing it – that’s what the objective is, getting first downs. I don’t care if I have to throw the ball 60 times a game if that’s what’s going to help us win a game. If I have to run it 60 times, I don’t care. I want productive plays.” 

Both Nagy and Mitch Trubisky admitted that going away from the run so drastically shot the team’s offensive rhythm in the foot. After trading up for David Montgomery back in April, the rookie has yet to come close to a 100-yard performance. He had two carries for six yards and a fumble on Sunday – perhaps his most underwhelming game in a season full of them. When asked about Montgomery's performance, Nagy gave one of the more cryptic answers of his Bears tenure.

“You guys sensing a theme here?” he asked. “I’m with you. I’m with you.” 

Now that it’s clear that the Bye Week Reckoning that took place after their London loss didn’t have its intended effect, the Bears will have to bail out water while paddling at the same time. Nagy wouldn’t offer much in terms of a QB evaluation – that comes tomorrow – but was adamant that Trubisky will keep his job. He did, however, leave a bit more room for interpretation when it came to his own game day duties. 

“I’m not going to get into all that,” Nagy said when asked if he’d consider changing play callers. “If I did, no one here will know.” 

Tomorrow, the Bears will report to Halas Hall as a 3-3 team – albeit one with vastly different vibes than last year's squad of the same record. With a substantial lack of encouraging game tape to study and all three divisional road games still to play, the path to a second straight playoff berth, ironically enough, feels farther away than it did last year. 

“I don’t know what to tell you,” Nagy said. “We’ve got to stay positive.” 

“We’ve got to regroup. We’ll recognize this loss, we’ll sit in it tonight, and then we’ve got to get better next week.”

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The Packers beat a bad Bears team in Week 1. In Week 15, they'll get a totally new one.

The Packers beat a bad Bears team in Week 1. In Week 15, they'll get a totally new one.

All week, reporters at Halas Hall tried to get Matt Nagy and the Bears to compare who they were during Week 1’s game against Green Bay to where they are now. And all week at Halas Hall, Matt Nagy and the Bears wouldn't bite. 

“We're both different. They're a little bit different, we're different,” Matt Nagy said. “They did a great job both as players and their coaches, so like I said yesterday, it feels like a while ago and that's why you play. You have a 16-game season and in division you get two chances. We'll just do everything we can to put it behind us and try to be better.” 

Different might be an understatement. Gone are Kyle Long and Bobby Massie. The Starting-Center-James-Daniel experiment is over, and Mike Davis is playing in the NFC South now. Adam Shaheen and Trey Burton – though the latter didn’t play in Week 1 – are on IR, too. Normally, losing two starting tight ends, a ‘starting’ running back, and the entire right side of the offensive line means you’re spending the last month of the season scouting for 2020. Instead, the Bears head to Lambeau Field on Sunday with a path to the playoffs still in front of them. 

“I just feel like we’re kind of in a rhythm now. We’re a different team,” Mitch Trubisky said. “There were some things that we had to go through in the first game and the beginning of the season that just didn’t go our way, and there’s things we definitely learned from as an offense. 

“I just feel like we have a new-found identity of what we want to do and everybody is really locked into what they have to do within their job description on the offense.” 

Perhaps the biggest difference between Week 1 and Week 15 has been the play of Trubisky, who looked like he was headed for a clipboard in 2020 before regaining his form over the last month or so. His comfortability in the offense is night and day compared to some of the struggles he went through during the first half of the season. If you ask him – which, duh, we did – he’ll tell you he’s felt the most growth off the field. 

“I just would say mental toughness, the ability to block out things on the outside,” he said. “Adversity, obviously, early in the season with people talking on the outside and then having to play through injuries and stuff, and just coming together closer as a team. My teammates having my back, that really gives me the most confidence.” 

The 14-week turnaround isn’t all about confidence, as Nagy 202 has morphed into something not expected but effective nonetheless. The running game has stabilized and they’ve found successful plays out of 4 WR sets – even if one of those receivers is Montgomery/Tarik Cohen. In Week 1? Montgomery had six rushes and the Bears ran two plays out of 10 personnel. Nagy said that he thought something clicked on Trubisky’s touchdown pass to Ben Braunecker against the Lions. 

“There's something there,” he said. “We felt it a little bit in the Chargers game, we just weren't effective in the red zone. But because we won the [Lions] game it magnifies it a little bit more … And then we just kind of started putting things together and I think over time we've just felt like it's just started to click. I don't know if it's specifically one play or not but that's probably my best guess.” 

It couldn’t have come at a better time, as the team prepares for what Nagy calls a “cat-and-mouse” game against Packers’ defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who perhaps knows Trubisky better than any other opposing coordinator in the game. 

“Coach Pettine has done a great job throughout his career of being almost tendency-free,” he said. “And they’re even better now with how they deploy those guys, and it’s kind of a perfect, perfect storm of scheme and talent, and the guys on the back end help them out too.” 

The Bears are playing with a looseness that might come from essentially being mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, but oddly, it continues to work for them. And when you have to go play Aaron Rodgers in Lambeau with your season on the line, you don’t question what works. 

“I love it. You want to go against the best all the time,” said Akiem Hicks, who was taken off IR and will start on Sunday. “If you’re a true competitor, you want the best competition.”

Clippers coach and Chicago native Doc Rivers weighs in on Bears-Packers

Clippers coach and Chicago native Doc Rivers weighs in on Bears-Packers

With Doc Rivers, Patrick Beverly and the Los Angeles Clippers in town to face the Bulls, you knew the question was coming. Both Rivers and Beverly are from Chicago and not shy about their affection for the city. 

"Do you and Pat talk about coming to Chicago?" a reporter asked, during Rivers' pregame media scrum, Saturday night.

"We talk about Chicago, probably every single day," Rivers said with a hint of a smile. "We talk about the Bears the most."

That led to Rivers rapid-fire addressing a number of ruminations on the current state of the Bears, including his respect for head coach Matt Nagy.

"I’m a big Bears fan. A big Nagy fan. I think he’s a terrific coach," Rivers said. "I just do, every once in a while you get a feeling about someone, and I have that about him."

High praise coming from Rivers, the 13th-winningest coach in NBA history and an NBA Finals champion in 2008 with the Boston Celtics.

Now, he coaches the third-winningest team in the league in the Clippers, but he still finds time to keep up with current Chicago affairs.

"[Beverly and I] talk about everything with Chicago. We talk about the dominance of Proviso East [Rivers' high school alma mater] over Marshall [Beverly's alma mater], and every other team. He doesn’t like that conversation very much," Rivers said.

He added that he even contemplated driving down for the Bears' Week 14 matchup with the Cowboys on Thursday Night Football (the Clippers were in town for a game with Milwaukee that Friday).

And as for tomorrow's crucial division game against the Packers, Rivers made his position abundantly clear.

"Well, you know what I think," Rivers said, when asked for a prediction for the contest. "Are you kidding me?"

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