Maybe the least surprising thing about Sunday night at Soldier Field – besides the final score – was how much the two teams interacted before the game. In a general sense, there’s probably no better example of what the Bears are trying to be than the Chiefs. Matt Nagy brought over plenty of coaches from Kansas City when he took the Bears' head coaching job in 2018, and his offensive vision is modeled after Andy Reid’s Patrick Mahomes-led juggernaut, and not just in a complimentary, copy-cat league way.
It’s not difficult to believe that at one point, a blueprint that cast Mitch Trubisky as Mahomes (and Tarik Cohen as Tyreek Hill and Adam Shaheen as Travis Kelce) felt a little store-brand, but achievable nonetheless. And whatever your personal take on the Nagy/Trubisky pairing is, Sunday night’s 26-3 loss only proved that it’s time for a new blueprint.
“I just feel like we let each other down, we let the fans down,” Trubisky said. “That's not how we want to finish our last home game at Soldier Field. We just left a lot of plays out there and a lot of uncharacteristic things that you're embarrassed of.”
It’d be silly to pick any one game to bury either Trubisky or Nagy, as tempting as that specific scenario might be on Monday morning. The two of them led the Bears’ offense in 12 wins, over some good teams, just a year ago. After the mess of this season, the time for relitigating whether they can win going forward will come in January, or February, or March, or April. What can be taken away from Sunday night is that continuing to consider a Mahomsian ceiling for Trubisky is not only unrealistic, but unhelpful.
The most daunting aspect of how much better Mahomes looked than Trubisky is the fact that, comparatively, Sunday night wasn’t even a spectacular performance by the reigning NFL MVP. Mahomes finished 23-33 with 250 yards and two touchdowns.
“He’s a special player,” Khalil Mack said. “The receivers that he has are special as well, so it was a hell of a challenge.”
Even without his gaudiest stats, Mahomes flashed everything Trubisky’s critics have so long been waiting to see. It was Mahomes who pushed the ball downfield on third-and-long, hitting Tyreek Hill for 19 yards when they needed 18. Three quarters later, on fourth-and-23, Trubisky checked down to tight end Eric Saubert for 11.
“Yeah, I probably should have took a shot,” Trubisky said. “Just when I was escaping the pocket, saw everyone really, really deep.”
"To call a play there to get guys that are going to be wide open is difficult," Nagy added.
The second-year coach was equally out of his depth on Sunday night, and those same Trubisky critics are already feasting on the postgame quotes about the team coming out sloppy. The weird challenge, a mismanaged first half and continued pre-snap penalties are all things that fall in Nagy's lap, and perpetuate a somewhat-concerning trend of the 2018 Coach of the Year being outcoached in his biggest personal matchups.
“I honestly felt like today, it felt like team versus team, not player versus player, not coach versus coach,” Nagy said.
If you want to jump ship on the Nagy/Trubisky Bears, one line at the end of a column isn’t going to stop you. This era is coming to a fork in the road faster than anyone expected, but no one’s careers ended on a night when one team was already eliminated and the other had already clinched. What it did end – or should, at least – is the idea that these two teams have anything in common.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.