If I had to pick one word to describe our Monday visit with Matt Nagy at Halas Hall it would be: sad.
At 4-9, even with four games to play the Bears 2021 season is now over. Jobs will be lost and more than a few of these Bears will shortly be saying goodbye.
Their last chance at changing the narrative – salvation had already left the building – was a stunning upset of the hated team up north.
But you can’t play half a football game and Monday Nagy said, “You know we’re together and you feel, you get frustrated but you keep fighting and there’s not any quit, you know that’s all you can do, that’s all we can do.”
He is still coaching and still talking as if he has plenty of tomorrows, but Monday he appeared resigned to reality.
When questioned about his awareness of needing to help rookie Teven Jenkins in his first real action after the Jason Peters injury Nagy said, “Yeah, you definitely want to help out as much as you can. And even with the sack-fumble, the strip-sack, there was a chip on that play.
“And throughout the game, we had 32 drop-backs, 16 of them had chips and slams,” Nagy said. “So 50 percent of the time, we’re chipping and slamming. Now, when you do that, you eliminate receivers or tight ends because you’re saying, OK, we’re gonna protect. We need to understand that.”
Of Justin Fields’ pick-six Nagy told us, “Yeah the pick six again Rasul made a nice play. He kind of was sitting, he was kind of sitting on the sticks a little bit.”
We all saw that except Fields apparently. But even though that ball clearly should never have been thrown there, Nagy tried to cover at last a bit for Fields saying, “I think it’s probably the combination of if we do that again or run it more, there might be a little more urgency to Justin’s footwork, but at the same point in time as I say that the kid still might have made a play on it.”
What happened on third-and-goal at the 5-yard-line on the Bears’ second possession that forced then to settle for three points in the red zone?
According to Nagy, “Down in the red zone we have some progressions that we go through. Justin went through his progressions and gave Cole an opportunity. He was still kind of moving his feet a little bit.
“And if you go back and watch it on tape, Justin would probably tell you if he just waited a little bit more he might have A-Rob in the back end line,” Nagy said.
Why did Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney only have two and one receptions respectively?
“You look back and see Mooney and A-Rob didn’t have many quote-unquote targets yesterday,” Nagy said. “But really there were play calls where they were supposed to get the ball and they didn’t for different reasons. We’re trying at times.”
If receivers aren’t getting targets they’re supposed to, can that be on any one but the quarterback?
We can argue until we’re blue in the face whether it was the right move to make Fields the starter in Week 5 or not.
Many were fine with throwing away a season because they believed it would help develop Fields faster, but you can’t argue that wasn’t going to be the price of suddenly deserting “the plan” and playing a rookie QB.
Fields probably has grown but he is still the NFL’s third-lowest rated passer minutely ahead of only fellow rookies Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson.
Perhaps the coaching hasn’t been good enough and maybe there’s never been enough talent beyond at quarterback.
Justin Fields hasn’t cost the Bears a single game on his own, which is absolutely not the point.
But Fields also isn’t good enough yet for them to win many either, and everyone should have seen that coming when the decision was suddenly made to hand this team to him.
From that point on the Bears were never going to win enough games to avoid the bloodletting that is likely coming and Nagy has been forced to try and climb an impossible hill.
Maybe I’m a sap but I just find that sad.