Three questions for the Bears’ coaching staff: How will Matt Nagy handle adversity?

Three questions for the Bears’ coaching staff: How will Matt Nagy handle adversity?

Three questions for the Bears’ coaching staff: How will Matt Nagy handle adversity?

Head coach: Matt Nagy

Offensive coordinator: Mark Helfrich
Quarterbacks coach: Dave Ragone
Running backs coach: Charles London
Wide receivers coach: Mike Furrey
Tight ends coach: Kevin Gilbride
Offensive line coach: Harry Hiestand

Defensive coordinator: Vic Fangio
Defensive line coach: Jay Rodgers
Outside linebackers coach: Brandon Staley
Linebackers coach: Glenn Pires
Defensive backs coach: Ed Donatell

Special teams coordinator: Chris Tabor
Strength and conditioning coach: Jason Loscalzo

1. How will Matt Nagy respond to adversity?

Nagy only called plays for five regular season games and then that ill-fated playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans last year with the Kansas City Chiefs, so we don’t have a full picture of how the first-year head coach will handle deteriorating or difficult situations. What we do know is that he’ll take accountability for them, at least based on his comments on the Chiefs’ collapse after being hired as the Bears’ coach. (

That’s a good start. But not everything will go the way Nagy plans in training camp, preseason games and then the regular season. What happens when he throws an ill-advised challenge flag? Or when a poor play call puts Mitch Trubisky in a bad spot? Or when the defense gives up a critical scores that costs the Bears a win?

In the short-term, how Nagy handles an investable training camp kerfuffle between teammates will be an interesting storyline. The Bears didn’t have a significant injury occur during the offseason program, but Nagy’s personality would seem to lend itself to him handling a situation like that well. 

He earned the respect of his players during OTAs and minicamps, but it’s hard for something to go seriously wrong in April, May and June. The stakes are higher in July and August, and then even moreso in the regular season. How Nagy handles the ebbs and flows of a season will go a long way toward determining his success as a coach. 

2. Will coaching consistency lead to the Bears’ defense improving?

The Bears have staked the success of their defense in 2018 on two things: 1) Keeping largely the same group of players and 2) Keeping the entire coaching staff in place. The only additions to this group were Roquan Smith — who, to be fair, represented a significant investment — and then a few guys who may be more rotational pieces (Aaron Lynch, Joel Iyiegbuniwe, Bilal Nichols, Kylie Fitts).

So what the Bears are expecting is the players already in place on this defense will play better than they did in 2017. And the reason for that, then, is the consistency on the coaching staff. 

“We got a set standard,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “We know what we need to get better at. Vic put up a display of what we need to get better at, and we all know what it is. It’s all going out here and making it happen to make us get better. We were top 10, we want to be top 5, top 1. That’s our whole attitude, to get better each day, taking as much of the day as you can to get better, work with the guys that you’re with and have fun.” 

3. Will the coaching structure around Mitch Trubisky lead to growth?

Nagy is a former quarterback. Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich and quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone are both former quarterbacks, too. Nobody’s pretending like the Bears’ coaching staff wasn’t assembled with Trubisky in mind. 

Those quarterback-centric coaching trios worked well in Los Angeles and Philadelphia, with both the Rams and Eagles going from under .500 in 2016 to winning their respective divisions in 2017. Expecting the Bears to do the same may be unfair given the strength of the NFC North, but then again — if the Rams, a seemingly-moribund franchise that hadn’t had a winning season since 2003, can do it, then why can’t the Bears?

For all the hype Pace generated by signing Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton, and for all the positivity felt because of the consistency on defense, the No. 1 thing that’ll determine how good this team will be is the success (or lack thereof) of Trubisky. Pace, Nagy and Trubisky are tethered together and will collectively sink or swim as a group. 

Pace’s work, for now, is done. It’s now on Nagy and the coaching staff he assembled to work with Trubisky and give him the best chance of succeeding in 2018. 

Bears grades: A closer look at Mitch Trubisky's night against a good defense 

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Bears grades: A closer look at Mitch Trubisky's night against a good defense 

Matt Nagy and the Bears are already on to Thursday afternoon’s game against the Detroit Lions, meaning their work at Halas Hall on Monday did not involve watching the film of Sunday night’s 25-20 win over the Minnesota Vikings. 

“The No. 1 thing is to make sure these guys are taken care of, see where they’re at physically and then mentally they’ll be good,” Nagy said. “But really just send home the message of ‘here we go.’ It’s right back at it. Enjoyed it last night. It was fun. It was a great win. Proud of the guys. Heck of a team we played against. Great coaches, great players. But just like that it’s on to the next one.” 

So in that spirit, we’re going to do grades a little differently this week. This mostly will be a breakdown of Mitch Trubisky’s game, with more rapid-fire reactions to the rest of the team’s units:


Mitch Trubisky’s final stat line does and doesn’t tell the story of his performance Sunday night. He completed 20 of 31 passes for 165 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, and rushed 10 times for 43 yards. 

We’ll start with the negatives: Perhaps the worst throw and decision Trubisky made didn’t result in one of his two interceptions. Midway through the fourth quarter, with the Bears up by eight and facing a third-and-three near midfield, Trubisky tried to float a pass toward Allen Robinson instead of trying to juke defensive tackle Tom Johnson (who was bearing down on him) and throw the ball away, or even just taking a sack. 

The result was a throw that Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes should’ve intercepted. Had he not dropped it, it would’ve been a sure-fire pick six and given the Vikings a chance to tie the game with a two-point conversion. 

“There was some man-zone concepts in there and both (Robinson) and Mitch were a little bit off base on what they thought the coverage was,” Nagy said. 

Nagy, though, wasn’t frustrated by the two decisions and throws Trubisky did make that were intercepted by safety Anthony Harris. 

The first one came when Trubisky took a shot downfield on a play the Bears had worked on in practice, and wound up throwing the ball into an area in which Taylor Gabriel was surrounded by three Vikings defenders. Tarik Cohen appeared to be open had Trubisky checked down, but Nagy wasn’t disappointed his quarterback didn’t make that shorter throw. 

“He thought maybe he could squeeze it on in there,” Nagy said. “We’ve made that throw a few times in practice. (Harris) made a great play. When you look at it in the end, you see three guys corralling around the football, but again to the safety’s credit, he made a nice catch. And then the 20-20 hindsight is it looks wide open when you check it down, but I can’t fault him for that.”

Trubisky’s second interception was the result of Robinson not being able to fight his way open, leading to Trubisky throwing right into the hands of Harris. To Trubisky’s right on the play, though, was tight end Ben Braunecker with no one around him. 

“You never want to force throws,” Nagy said. “I don’t think they were forced throws. I think they were a little more aggressive, and I’m OK with that. We just have to learn from it and respect the plays they made.”

Trubisky, though, did some good things — his running ability again shined with a slippery nine-yard run on third and seven on the Bears’ first possession, sparking a drive that ended in a field goal. He made some excellent throws to convert third downs, too, to Gabriel and Robinson — with that throw to Robinson becoming critical in sealing the five-point win. He converted both two-point attempts, too, with good throws to Josh Bellamy and Adam Shaheen. 

Trubisky himself didn’t sound all too pleased with how he performed after the game Sunday, but it’s also worth putting his game into some context: This is a Vikings defense that held Drew Brees to 120 yards with one touchdown and one interception a few weeks ago, and tormented Jimmy Garoppolo (15/33, 261 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs) in Week 1. While Trubisky made some plays that allowed the Vikings to keep the game close, he also made some plays that helped the Bears finish off a five-point win over a good division opponent. 

“He never got rattled,” Nagy said. “Not at all. He continued to stay very composed, next play mentality, nothing changed, never got too high, never got too low.” 

On to the rest of the grades:


Jordan Howard had his best half of the season in the first 30 minutes, rumbling with power and conviction for 46 yards on 10 carries. His second half was considerably quieter, with only 17 yards on eight carries, while Tarik Cohen lost a fumble that resulted in the Vikings getting a field goal. Cohen, though, did make a few nice plays — his 21-yard run on a second-and-21 was outstanding, and he managed to juke Harrison Smith out of blowing up a screen. 


This may not have been the most productive game for this unit, but each active member of the Bears’ wide receiver corps came up with at least one critical play. Six of Taylor Gabriel’s nine touches went for first downs, including three on third down. Anthony Miller scooped Trubisky’s under thrown pass off the end zone grass for an 18-yard touchdown. Allen Robinson hauled in a critical third-and-long conversion late in the fourth quarter. And Josh Bellamy caught the first of the Bears’ two successful two-point conversion attempts. It wasn’t all clean — Bellamy dropped a pass and Robinson got tied up on Trubisky’s second interception — but what this group lacked in big-time numbers it made up for in high-leverage plays. 


Shaheen’s return gave the Bears’ running game an early boost with some good blocking, and he bodied up Rhodes to haul in Trubisky’s two-point conversion toss. Otherwise, it wasn’t a productive game for this unit, with Trey Burton and Braunecker each catching only a single pass. 


Charles Leno delivered two excellent blocks to help spring Cohen’s 21-yard run, and the Bears’ offensive line largely kept Trubisky upright against a defense that brought Matthew Stafford down 10 times the last time it played. The run blocking early was solid, too, even if it waned a bit in the second half. 


Akiem Hicks had five tackles for a loss and he, Eddie Goldman and Bilal Nichols were critical in holding Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray to a combined 17 yards on 13 carries. That turned the Vikings’ offense into a one-dimensional group, and Hicks was able to drop Kirk Cousins for a sack, too. For Hicks, it was the kind of game that should finally get him into the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career. 


Khalil Mack thoroughly wrecked the first half, as his impact was felt even when he didn’t physically pressure or hit Cousins (the bizarre interception Cousins threw at the end of the first half seemed to be the result of his internal clock speeding up). Leonard Floyd had an impactful game, too, consistently delivering pressure and making plays against the run. 


Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith only combined for eight tackles, and Smith allowed 42 yards the six times he was targeted (with four catches, per Pro Football Focus). Smith missed a tackle on Stefon Diggs that allowed the Vikings receiver to gain about 25 more yards on a play, too. Trevathan, though, blew up a screen to Cook for a loss of five in the second quarter and delivered a hard hit on a Cousins scramble late in the fourth quarter.


Eddie Jackson’s pick-six was massive — without it, the Bears may not have won, or at least won fairly comfortably, on Sunday. Adrian Amos had another solid game, too, with his second interception of the year. Prince Amukamara, Kyle Fuller and Bryce Callahan, though, didn’t have their best games, combining to allow 20 receptions on 27 passes thrown their way, per Pro Football Focus — but perhaps that’s more a function of the Vikings’ offense being good at completing throws to Diggs and Adam Thielen. 


Cody Parkey hit all three of his field goals, including a 48-yarder that effectively sealed the Bears’ win. He did have a kick go out of bounds, though, and the Bears only had 10 players on the field for a punt return midway through the third quarter. 


Nitpick some of Nagy’s play calls if you want, but the Bears finished a win over an NFC North contender with offense, defense and special teams all making critical plays in the fourth quarter. The Vikings, meanwhile, were taken out their comfort zone early by the Bears dictating what they wanted to do, not the other way around. That’s a massive win for a young head coach going against a veteran in Mike Zimmer. 

Neat Tweets: Statement wins are the neatest type of win

Neat Tweets: Statement wins are the neatest type of win

The Bears wins just get more and more neat. It's hard not to be when you're thoroughly dominating your toughest divisional opponent, at home, in those neat orange jerseys, in front of a raucous crowd that's been drinking enjoying their tailgate all day. 

Not only were the Tweets again neat, but they were all seen in primetime and everyone's engagement numbers were also probably very neat. Way to go, all. Here's what they were saying: