The Bears were already getting embarrassed on national TV Monday night. Then Brian Griese relayed a conversation he said he had with Nick Foles.
And it sounded like the Bears’ starting quarterback threw his coach and playcaller under the bus in it.
“Sometimes playcalls come in and I know that I don’t have time to execute that playcall,” Griese, the "Monday Night Football" analyst, said Foles told him in a pregame production meeting. “And 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 and so that’s something that they have to work out.”
Foles, who was shown the clip in question before his postgame Zoom press conference, said Griese’s re-telling of their brief conversation was not accurate. Foles described what Griese as a “miscommunication” and emphasized his strong relationship with Nagy.
“I would never say anything like that,” Foles said.
Still, reaction from those still watching the broadcast of the Bears’ 24-10 loss to the Los Angeles Rams was swift long before Foles cleared up what he told Griese. Warren Sharp, one of the smartest football minds out there and also a guy with over 200,000 followers on Twitter, said it was a “bombshell” comment. It quickly blew up across social media, reaching a large swath of football fans who happened to be online late Monday evening.
And Griese’s re-telling of his chat with Foles made it seem like an offense defined by dysfunction on the field was also laced with dysfunction off the field.
Foles explained he was talking to Griese about the conversations he and Nagy have during games on the sidelines about how to deal with pressure – a standard in-game conversation between coach and quarterback. Nothing out of the ordinary, and certainly nothing like taking a flamethrower to your coach.
“When coach Nagy and I talk on the sidelines, we’ll go through plays and different situations and go through the defense. I’ll be honest, like, ‘hey, right now, maybe get the ball out quicker. They’re bringing some pressures’ whatnot,” Foles said. “… Part of that was, ‘Hey, maybe we don’t have the time right now for this type of drop because of what they’re bringing, the pressures they’re bringing. It’s easier with that to go, ‘hey, 1,2,3 ball out.’
“That’s where the miscommunication (with Griese) lies. Those are actually conversations Coach Nagy and I have on the sidelines so that when we go to the field we’re ready to roll. I think that’s a valuable relationship I have with him, to be able to talk like that and understand specifically for me to talk about each game is its own entity so you have to understand how to play it in the appropriate way.”
Nagy had not seen the clip in question before his press conference Monday night and did not feel like he was calling plays that were doomed to fail because Foles wasn’t going to be given sufficient protection by his offensive line to execute them.
“You’ll have to, whenever you talk to Nick, just have to see where he’s at with that,” Nagy said. “Nick and I have a pretty good relationship and he hasn’t said anything. He’ll probably explain what he meant by that.”
Griese elaborated on his comments on “SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt” after Monday’s game, too, explaining how Nagy might be calling plays that are doomed to fail for his quarterback.
"It's really disheartening as a quarterback when the play call comes in and you know, maybe it's a five or seven step drop and you know that once you get back to your fifth step or your seventh step, you don't even have time to take a hitch to get rid of the football,” Griese said. “And yeah, you might want to push the ball down the field, you might want to throw a 20-yard out, but in Nick Foles' mind when he gets back to that fifth step and he takes the check down right away because he knows that they don't have the protection up front. Now part of it is scheme, but a big part of it is personnel."
On one hand, it’s a little hard to believe Foles would torch Nagy in the way Griese seemed to indicate he did. The two have a strong relationship dating back to 2012, when Foles was a rookie and Nagy was an offensive quality control assistant with the Philadelphia Eagles. Nagy and Foles were re-united in Kanas City at the low point of Foles’ career, shortly after he considered quitting football. The two spent a lot of time together that year during training camp and grew close. The Bears traded for Foles in March in part because of that existing relationship with Nagy.
But Nagy had never called plays for Foles in a game before he benched Mitch Trubisky at halftime in Week 3. Foles had an animated discussion with Nagy in the fourth quarter of the Bears’ Week 5 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that was caught on the Thursday Night Football broadcast. The player-playcaller aspect of the Foles-Nagy relationship needs work, as evidenced by Monday night’s lousy three-point effort by the Bears’ offense.
And that’s true no matter if Griese accurately represented Foles’ comments or not.