CHICAGO – Matt Nagy and Andy Dalton went back to their high school days. In the second half of Sunday’s 33-22 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Nagy had to give hand signals and shout play calls to his quarterback.
A headset issue for the home team at Soldier Field forced them to go old-school.
“There were times I could hear some of [the play call],” Dalton said. “There were times when I couldn’t hear any of it. So it was just working through that. And I thought we handled it well with the situation that it was, but you’d like the headsets to work at all times.”
Dalton also used a wristband with the play sheet on it, like many college and high school quarterbacks do.
After one or two possessions of hand signals, somebody found Nagy a walkie talkie with more reliable access to the quarterback’s headset. So the head coach relayed play calls from offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, who Nagy heard through his headset, into the walkie talkie, which Dalton could hear in his helmet.
It probably didn’t matter, because Dalton threw four interceptions and the Cardinals capitalized on a rainy December day in Chicago.
“I mean, that’s a big deal,” tight end Cole Kmet said. “When you’ve got [Nagy] screaming at him the next play, it’s tough. But yeah, between that, the weather, we’ve got to be better. They played in the same conditions we did, so we’ve just got to be better.”
This was the second consecutive home game where the Bears had communication issues in their own stadium. Nagy lost his ability to communicate with his coaches during a key moment of the Nov. 21 loss to Baltimore.
Rumors swirled in past years that funny stuff was going on with visitors’ headsets when they traveled to New England (nothing was ever substantiated), but headset issues in a home stadium two games in a row is, well, not great.
To be clear: Lazor is still calling plays, not Nagy. Nagy said he was using the walkie talkie solely to relay the message to Dalton.
“Bill is calling all the plays,” Nagy said. “And I have input if there is, situationally, if there is a feel or something, and that’s been always. Nothing has changed from any other games. Today was a normal day. We had the headset go out so, literally, it’s like just going through a second half without a headset. So we’ve got to be able to adjust.”
It would’ve made for a good story if the Bears had overcome it in a victory. Unfortunately, Dalton’s passes kept finding the wrong hands.