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."
"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."