The Chicago Bears surprised many with their 12-4 playoff season, thanks in large part to their rookie head coach. However, too much praise is given to Matt Nagy, despite his team’s obvious struggle to score points down the stretch.
The Chicago Bears would likely not have been a playoff team this season without the addition of former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator, Matt Nagy last off-season. The rookie head coach breathed new life into a Bears franchise that had endured nearly a decade of disappointment. Losing had, unfortunately, become the norm in Soldier Field until Nagy showed up.
Blaming a kicker for a season-ending playoff defeat is not the sole reason the Bears aren’t moving on to play this upcoming weekend against the Los Angeles Rams. You can blame a dominant defense that couldn’t stop the Philadelphia Eagles when it ultimately mattered most. Better yet, how about the offense, that seemingly regressed as the season winded down?
If the Bears score more than 15 measly points against the Eagles, maybe the defense and Cody Parkey aren’t put in nail-biting situations to make a play with a win on the line?
This Bears’ season will ultimately be deemed a success, and rightfully so. The franchise moved beyond the John Fox era in great fashion – substituting old school play-calling with innovative concepts that now keep fans on the edge of their seats.
Mitch Trubisky, who is often scrutinized by the media pundits, had a nice sophomore year, improving drastically from his first season.
Nagy deserves plenty of credit for the Bears’ and Trubisky’s surprising turnaround in such a short amount of time. But, he also deserves blame for the Bears’ offense disappearing down the stretch this season.
Remember: Nagy may be the head coach, but he’s also calling the offensive plays for the Bears. And under his guidance, the Bears offense over their final five games took a nose-dive.
From Week 14 on, not counting scoring off turnovers from opposing offenses, the Bears’ offense averaged just 18 points-per-game. While Parkey accounted for three missed field goals during that final stretch, the main takeaway is that the Bears struggled scoring touchdowns in opponent’s territory, often settling for made or missed field goals.
This was a constant theme pretty much all season long for the Bears. Their offense was often good enough to move the ball down the field. But sometimes Nagy would get too cute with his play-calling, looking for an exotic splash play as opposed to just keeping things simple. And other times vice-versa: when the Bears needed to keep their foot on the gas pedal offensively, they often put on the brakes, knowing that their defense would keep opposing teams in check.
Much like the players experiencing the taste of playoff action for the first time, and winning games regularly for that matter, Nagy too has some growing pains to work through despite his team’s success, as he gains more experience as a head coach.
Nagy is being hyped as an offensive guru given his recent pedigree working with Andy Reid, but some of this praise given by fans and media is very misleading. Over the entire season, the Bears finished the season averaging 26.3 points-per-game. That’s good enough to be ranked as the ninth best in the league. But that number is simply a by-product of having an elite defense capable of creating turnovers on a regular basis, thus creating even more scoring opportunities for the Bears.
How would the Bears’ offense have performed if they didn’t have an elite defense to constantly bail them out in games? Pretty pedestrian if you dive deeper into these two notable statistics.
Overall, the Bears’ total yards produced on offense ranked just 21st in the NFL. And that’s with a defense that often gave the Bears offense more possessions than their opponents during games. Case in point: The Bears ranked 3rd in the entire NFL in average time of possession (31:49 minutes per game).
The offense stalled way too frequently during games, starting out promising early, only to fizzle late. It’s something Nagy will have to work on making sure his players improve upon moving forward if the Bears want to truly take that final step into elite contender status.
The future for the Bears is promising, thanks largely to Nagy. But like his team, Nagy must continue to work through some kinks in order to truly live up to the billing that so many have already bestowed upon him this soon.