The Introductory Press Conference: Learning from Failure
Nagy came to the Bears following a stint as the Kansas Chiefs offensive coordinator. He was introduced as the Chicago Bears head coach three days after the Chiefs blew a 21-0 halftime lead and lost to the Tenessee Titans 22-21 in the AFC Wild Card Round.
Many blamed the loss on Nagy’s play-calling for being too conservative in the second half. The main worry was could Nagy grow from such an epic failure. He famously responds by saying…
He was brought in to develop Trubisky whom the Bears selected No. 2 overall in the previous year’s NFL Draft. Many wondered what Nagy’s thoughts were on Trubisky considering the Chiefs selected Patrick Mahomes at No. 10 after in the 2017 NFL Draft.
He would soon find out those words would not be entirely true.
The First Game
The Chicago Bears started the Nagy era at Lambeau Field on Sunday Night Football. Everything seemed like it was getting off to a great start in Green Bay. Khalil Mack dominantly made his debut. Aaron Rodgers appeared to be knocked out of the game.
Trubisky looked calm and confident. The Bears jumped out to a 20-0 lead on the Packers.
Rodgers returned and led a comeback for the ages as the Packers beat the Bears 24-23. At the time, it was a heartbreaker but still a sign that the Bears might be headed in the right direction after the John Fox era of misery.
Instead, it was the precursor of issues to come. The Bears’ offense struggled to score points in the second half. Trubisky could not get through his progressions and missed wide-open receivers. If Trubisky sees Trey Burton open in the endzone late in the game, the Bears win. Alas, it was a foreshadow of issues to come.
Blowing Out Tampa
The Chicago Bears dominated the Tampa Buccaneers 48-10 at Soldier Field.
It was probably the best offensive game played during Nagy’s tenure. It was the most points scored by the offense–all the points came from the offense or Cody Parkey’s kicking (We will get to more of him later).
Trubisky had his best game as a Bear. He completed 19 of 26 passes for 354 yards and six touchdown passes. It looked like the Bears had a franchise quarterback.
More importantly, it looked like the franchise had finally found its offensive guru.
Beating the Rams
The Chicago Bears’ defense shut down the LA Rams high-powered offense in a 15-6 win in front of a live national TV audience.
It was a statement game for the NFL’s No. 1 rank defense. It was also a sign of an offense that struggled to score points.
Trubisky was back at starting quarterback after missing two starts with an injury. He struggled badly completing 16 of 30 passes for 110 yards with one touchdown pass and three interceptions.
The Rams’ defense was great in their own right but they started to disguise their coverages in a way that baffled Trubisky. It was a huge warning sign that Mitch just could not read defenses and work through his progressions. It was ignored because the Bears won and would go on to win nine of their last 10 regular-season games.
Clinching the Division
The culmination of the season happened with a 24-17 victory over the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field. The win also clinched the NFC North Division Championship–the first one since 2010. The Bears ended a seven-season playoff drought.
The Double-Doink Playoff Loss
The Bears hosted their first playoff game since losing the 2010 NFC Championship Game to the Packers. The Philadelphia Eagles and Nick Foles came into Soldier Field looking to repeat as Super Bowl Champs.
The Bears’ defense played well and held the Eagles to just 16 points, 277 passing yards, and just a tad over 40 yards rushing.
Chicago’s offense struggled to score points. Trubisky did not play well in the first half. He turned it on in the second half. He first led a touchdown drive to put the Bears ahead 15-10.
Foles answered with a scoring drive to give the Eagles a late one-point lead. Trubisky drove the Bears into Eagles territory and set up Cody Parkey for a potential game-winning 43-yard field goal.
Parkey struggled with accuracy all season and field goal posts in general. Parkey’s drive was partially tipped, hit the left goal post, and bounce of the crossbar for the infamous “double-doink.”
Nagy’s reaction to the double doink would go on to be a regularly used gif or meme.