Trey Burton's 'strange' injury and how it impacted Bears offense in playoff loss to Eagles

Trey Burton's 'strange' injury and how it impacted Bears offense in playoff loss to Eagles

When Matt Nagy went to sleep Friday night, he could rest easy knowing he had his entire slate of offensive weapons at his disposal for Sunday's playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

But a few hours later, he was showing up to the Bears facility and caught wind of starting tight end Trey Burton nursing a new groin injury that wound up keeping him out of action Sunday afternoon. That was after Burton practiced in full all week and didn't show up on the injury report in any capacity until Saturday.

"He got up [Saturday] morning — it was early. It was like 5 in the morning," Nagy said. "He was getting there the same time I was and his groin hurt, so they went through just trying to get everything looked at and see what's going on. They did tests and everything and that's when we weren't sure what was going to happen."

When asked if Burton pointed to anything at practice Friday that may have led to the groin injury, Nagy didn't know of anything.

"I don't think so, no," the first-year head coach said. "It's strange. I'm not a doctor, but I don't really have an answer for you on that. He ended up getting up [Saturday] and felt it and did what he was supposed to do — which is go in and talk to the trainer and try to get it taken care of. That's exactly what we did."

The end result was a hole at tight end for the Bears in their first playoff game in eight years as they managed only 15 points against the Eagles defense.

It's impossible to point to only one thing as the reason for the Bears' subpar offensive output — Cody Parkey's missed field goal at the end would've surely changed the tone of every postgame narrative had that kick gone through the uprights — but Burton's absence was absolutely felt. 

Mitch Trubisky and the Bears managed only 136 total yards of offense and 6 points in the first half as they struggled to get anything going against the Eagles defense. 

Trubisky found his groove in the second half and the Bears racked up 220 total yards of offense, but they still could've benefitted from another weapon and further dividing the attention of the Philly defense. Without Burton as a threat, the Eagles had an easier time keying in on Tarik Cohen in the passing game, limiting the Bears running back to only 3 catches on 5 targets for 27 yards.

However, Nagy brushed off any notion that Burton's absence impacted Cohen negatively in the game.

"No, listen, every team we play is going to have a play for 29," Nagy said. "So we've got to figure out how to find ways to get him the ball. When you have a plan for 29, it opens up other guys and then you saw today, [Allen Robinson] ended up having a pretty good day out there."

Robinson had a huge game, setting a Bears postseason record with 143 receiving yards, 121 of which came in the second half. 

Still, it certainly would've helped the Bears to have Burton available. In his absence, Bears tight ends (Adam Shaheen, Ben Braunecker) combined for only 28 receiving yards on 5 catches.

After the game, Burton put a lot of blame on his shoulders, especially because he didn't an opportunity to take it to the Eagles, the team he won a Super Bowl with last year.

"It crushed [Burton]. It absolutely crushed him," Nagy said after the game. "I just saw him in there and he feels bad because he feels like he wasn't there for his guys. And then of course, how ironic — just crazy ironic — that it's against Philadelphia.

"Things happen. I mean, he had a great week of practice all week and then all of a sudden — this. But that's what it is. That's how things go. I told Trey [Saturday], 'Hey, you've got to understand, stay positive, hopefully we go get a win and then you come back next week against the Rams.' It's unfortunate."

Trubisky concurred.

"Obviously we want all our playmakers out there," the second-year quarterback said. "It was unfortunate that he couldn't be out there with us tonight and I know it's probably burning for him to not be out there. But for us, it's just stick together, support him and support the next guy who's got to step up for him. 

"...We know the type of player Trey is and he just makes our offense better. But he continued to have our backs on the sidelines, just being there, supporting us, helping guys and making sure he was still a part of this team and family."

Barring a total disaster, Matt Nagy's job is safe according to hot-seat list

Barring a total disaster, Matt Nagy's job is safe according to hot-seat list

Bears coach Matt Nagy was the darling of the NFL coaching fraternity in 2018 after he led his team to a 12-4 record and Chicago's first NFC North title in nearly a decade. But that was last year, and with the Bears sitting at 6-6 and falling way short of preseason expectations, some of the shine from his 2018 Coach of the Year Award has worn off.

But even though 2019 hasn't gone as predicted, Nagy isn't among the list of coaches who are on the hot seat, according to a new list compiled by ESPN. Instead, Nagy's seat is 'cool' and his job is safe barring a complete meltdown over the final four games of the year.

"Nagy doesn't have the same job security he enjoyed last season when he was the NFL Coach of the Year, but it's a stretch to think the Bears will fire him," ESPN's Jeff Dickerson wrote. "The team has struggled across the board on offense -- Nagy's specialty -- and the coach has shouldered his share of the blame. Still, the Bears are 18-10 in the regular season under Nagy. For comparison sake, John Fox went 13-34 in Chicago. Nagy isn't going anywhere."

It's pretty remarkable how far the Bears have come in two seasons under Nagy, even though their record this year doesn't scream success. If Chicago doesn't win another game this season, their six wins would equal the highest total in the four years preceding Nagy's arrival. If the Bears finish 8-8, it would be only the third time since 2011 that they were .500 or better. Chicago had just eight wins combined in 2016 and 2017.

Sure, Bears fans were hoping for a Super Bowl run in 2019 and Nagy was supposed to be the offensive genius who spearheaded the charge. It's true he's regressed as a play-caller this year, but it's only his second season as an NFL head coach. Much like his young quarterback, he's going through some growing pains and learning on the job.

But compared to the coaches who came before him -- John Fox and Marc Trestman -- Nagy is a beacon of hope for a bright future in Chicago.

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Bears land high-profile QB in latest 2020 NFL Mock Draft

Bears land high-profile QB in latest 2020 NFL Mock Draft

The 2020 NFL draft is still more than four months away, but it hasn't stopped draft experts from publishing their early mock drafts. And fortunately for Bears fans, most mock drafts now extend beyond just the first round.

Bleacher Report's Matt Miller published a new three-round mock draft Wednesday which has the Bears spending their first of two second-round selections on Georgia quarterback, Jake Fromm. The Fromm pick keeps with the trending narrative that general manager Ryan Pace will look to add competition for Mitch Trubisky this offseason.

Fromm would make a ton of sense for the Bears. He isn't overflowing with physical gifts and may end up settling in as an average NFL starter when it's all said and done, but he'd be a great insurance policy if Trubisky doesn't breakout in 2020. Fromm would provide Chicago with another young and talented option at quarterback who the Bears can insert into the lineup early next year if Trubisky fails.

The problem with this mock selection is that it might never have a chance to come to fruition. Fromm could sneak into the end of the first round and be off the board well before the Bears pick, which right now would be in the late-40's, early-50's.

With their second pick in the second round, Miller has the Bears taking Michigan offensive guard, Ben Bredeson. A veteran of more than 50 starts at guard, Bredeson would provide the Bears with the kind of physical toughness the interior of the offensive line has been missing since Kyle Long's injuries started mounting up.

Chicago isn't about to give up on 2018 second-round pick James Daniels, and Cody Whitehair appears set at center for as long as Trubisky is quarterback. But Rashaad Coward has done little to suggest he's the long-term answer at right guard which makes a prospect like Bredeson a logical target as a potential starter right away.

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