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.”