Bears

'I called every single play:' Matt Nagy's accountability for Chiefs' collapse resonates with Bears

'I called every single play:' Matt Nagy's accountability for Chiefs' collapse resonates with Bears

There was a rumor floating around Twitter in the aftermath of the Kansas City Chiefs’ playoff collapse: It was Andy Reid, not Matt Nagy, who was calling the plays as the Chiefs squandered an 18-point lead in their 22-21 loss to the Tennessee Titans. 

That rumor, as it turned out, wasn’t true. 

“I called every single play in the second half,” Nagy said.

Nagy didn’t dodge the question when asked how things went so wrong in what wound up being his final two quarters with the Chiefs. The 39-year-old took accountability for the Chiefs’ collapse, striking a refreshing and honest tone with the spotlight on him for the first time at Halas Hall.

“That there was a learning situation for me,” Nagy said. “I’ve gone back and looked at it. There are scenarios where I wish I would've made some different choices with the play call. 

“For me, that was a failure in my book.”

That's a strong quote. It was striking, especially in the wake of the secretive, sometimes combative public-facing nature of the John Fox era, to hear a coach admit "failure" in a press conference, let alone his first one in a new city.

That wild card playoff game was only the sixth time Nagy had called plays in his career, too, and he said on Tuesday he hopes to be a better coach because of that experience. 

“I’ll grow from it and I'll learn from it, I promise you that, and I'll use it as a strength here for me with the Chicago Bears,” Nagy said. “I felt terrible for our team, for our organization, put in a lot of good work. Again, going back to the question of losing somebody, when you lose a player like [Travis Kelce], you got to adapt. And I met with our offense, our offensive staff supports me, coach Reid supports me. 

“But I called every play in that second half. I stand by it. And I promise you I'm going to learn from it.”

Not only did Nagy take accountability in public for his playcalling during the Chiefs’ collapse, but he did so during his 4 1/2 hour interview with Ryan Pace Sunday morning. Pace said he watched the Chiefs’ game from his hotel room Saturday night and had “mixed emotions,” but in asking Nagy about it less than 24 hours later, the Bears’ general manager came away impressed. 

“One of the things I love about Matt is his humility and willingness to come in and talk about that moment like he did with (the media),” Pace said. “He owned it. ‘Hey, guys, this is what happened, I was calling the plays, this is what I learned from that moment, and this is what I’m going to do better going forward.’ I think that says a lot about him as a person.”

And it, too, says a lot about who the Bears believe they have in the 16th head coach in franchise history. 

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith has more sheared sheep than tackles on his stat sheet as a pro football player.

Smith and several other Bears rookies participated in a hands-on community event at Lambs Farm in Libertyville, Illinois on Monday where he assisted farm staff with the sheep's grooming. Smith said it was a first for him despite growing up around animals. 

"It's like on the norm for me though, playing linebacker you're in the trenches," Smith said of the experience.

"Shaving a sheep, I never really envisioned myself doing something like that," Smith said via ChicagoBears.com. "I was around animals [growing up], but it was more so cows and goats here and there and dogs and cats. I've petted a sheep before, but never actually flipped one and shaved one."

Bears rookies got up close and personal with more than just sheep.

Smith was selected with the eighth overall pick in April's draft and will assume a starting role opposite Danny Trevathan at inside linebacker this season. Here's to hoping he can wrangle opposing ball-carriers like a sheep waiting to be sheared.

The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

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USA Today Sports Images

The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

Asking players about how the defense is “ahead” of the offense is a yearly right of passage during OTAs, sort of like how every baseball team has about half its players saying they’re in the best shape of their life during spring training. So that Vic Fangio’s defense is ahead of Matt Nagy’s offense right now isn’t surprising, and it's certainly not concerning. 

But Nagy is also working to install his offense right now during OTAs to build a foundation for training camp. So does the defense — the core of which is returning with plenty of experience in Fangio’s system — being ahead of the offense hurt those efforts?

“It’s actually good for us because we’re getting an experienced defense,” Nagy said. “My message to the team on the offensive side is just be patient and don’t get frustrated. They understand that they’re going to play a little bit faster than us right now. We’ll have some growing pains, but we’ll get back to square one in training camp.”

We’ll have a chance to hear from the Bears’ offensive players following Wednesday’s practice, but for now, the guys on Fangio’s defense have come away impressed with that Nagy’s offense can be. 

“The offense is a lot … just very tough,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “They’re moving well. They’re faster. They’re throwing a lot of different looks at us and that’s just Nagy’s offense. If I was a receiver I would love to play in this offense, just because you get to do so many different things and you get so many different plays. It just looks fun over there.”

“They’re moving together, and I like to see that,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “We’re not a bad defense. They’re practicing against us, so they’re getting better every day, and vice versa. It’s a daily grind. It’s going to be tough, but those guys, they got the right pieces. I like what I see out there. When somebody makes a play, they’re gone. Everybody can run over there. It’s the right fit for Mitch, it’s the right fit for the receivers, the running backs.”

Still, for all the praise above, the defense is “winning” more, at least as much as it can without the pads on. But the offense is still having some flashes, even as it collectively learns the terminology, concepts and formations used by Nagy. 

And that leads to a competitive atmosphere at Halas Hall, led by the Bears’ new head coach. 

“He’s an offensive coach and last year coach (John) Fox, I couldn’t really talk stuff to (him) because he’s a defensive coach and it’s like Nagy’s offense so if I get a pick or something, I mean, I like to talk stuff to him,” Amukamara said. “He’ll say something like ‘we’re coming at you 2-0.’ Stuff like that. That just brings out the competition and you always want that in your head coach.”