LAKE FOREST – In and of itself the Bears’ 24-10 embarrassment Monday night in Los Angeles isn’t all that significant.
At 5-2, they still have the second-best record in the NFC, and whether they earned that 5-2 record or are worthy of it is meaningless. It’s what they do with it that will matter.
Two weeks ago, after getting beat and beat up by the Bears, analysts and fans were saying the same things about the Bucs that they were screaming about the Bears on Tuesday morning, and what are they saying now?
One week ago, the Rams were in the exact same spot as the Bears are today. This morning, they were celebrated.
Yes, the Bears’ offensive line is among the worst in the league, and against the Rams, Nick Foles easily limboed under the very low bar set by Mitch Trubisky. But if not fixable, those things at least can be improved, and with the Bears’ defense and special teams, they can be dangerous.
The real crisis is whether coach Matt Nagy is willing to do what it takes to salvage the season, or will he insist he alone can fix it?
At this moment, he is badly in need of an intervention.
Nagy knows the problem is his offense and specifically the offensive line and quarterback.
“When [playing] quarterback is hard is when you can’t step into your throws. That’s when quarterbacking is hard,” Nagy said Tuesday during a news conference.
A moment later, he added, “I’ll say this, too: Playing offensive tackle, when that’s hard is when you’re too deep in the pocket as a quarterback and you get edged.
“When you take your footwork, are you protecting your tackles by setting up in the pocket, and then when you do step up in the pocket, do you have the ability to step up in the pocket or not?”
Clearly, he was telling us pass protection is the problem, so I assumed the logical approach was to consider your guy on the bench with the athleticism and legs to threaten that rush as a potential or at least partial answer, but here’s what Nagy told me.
“Yeah, no,” he said.
“When you say that in regards to a mobile quarterback, I’m not so sure that that’s the answer with that, with what we’re talking about, with the drop back of a quarterback and the tackle situation.
“We have a lot of confidence, and I have a lot of confidence, in Nick right now with where he’s at.
“And I know from yesterday, decision-making-wise and where he’s at, I thought he did a good job.”
OK, but is that confidence justified, and where does it come from?
The next question was about the intercepton Foles threw in the end zone, and Nagy’s reply included, “In that situation, when they do cover it like that, Nick would be the first to tell you that you just throw it even further in the back corner of the end zone, or just throw the ball away and live to see the next down, you know?
“That would be one of the decisions that I would say he would want back in that situation.”
There was a final question in which Nagy was queried as to what he can do to relieve the pressure if he doesn’t change QBs.
“There’s a lot of ways schematically, and that’s where, for us, we have that,” he said. “Those are in there.”
Summing up, he added, “Absolutely you can do that ,and we have that in our playbook to be able to do that.”
And yet he isn’t.
There is no shame in being a good head coach, maybe even very good, but as an offensive coordinator and play-caller is where Nagy is failing.
Can it be good enough to win, or does it have to be with your scheme, your plays and your calls?
Matt, you don’t have the talent to do that right now.
It’s nut-cutting time, right now, this week. A Rams-like performance against the Saints on Sunday, and it begins to become too late.
Nagy’s an easy guy to root for, and that’s why I’m really hoping he swallows hard now and realizes that, much like he was the guy Andy Reid reached out to in a similar situation, Nagy needs to hand the offensive reins to one of his assistants.
• Hub Arkush is a Shaw Media correspondent.