The Indianapolis Colts came into Soldier Field handed the Chicago Bears their first loss of the season on Sunday. The Bears’ record dropped to 3-1 and they currently sit in second place in the NFC North.
Bears fans woke up on Monday morning in a sour mood and rightfully so. The team had been playing with house money through the first three weeks and came away with three wins against bad teams. The Bears finally got their first true test against a good team and it went about as poorly as one could imagine. There was a lot to pull away from the ugly defeat.
Matt Nagy: The Play Caller
Let’s just get right into it and address the elephant in the room: Matt Nagy. What in the world was that clunker of a performance on Sunday? The offense looked anemic and a lot of that falls on the play-calling.
Yes, the Bears only lost by eight points, but the score doesn’t truly reflect how bad the offense was. The final tally in the Bears’ column of the box score may have read 11, but that’s a bit misleading. The Bears were held to just three points for the first 58:25 of the game.
The head coach had nowhere to hide. Mitchell Trubisky was on the bench but if you watched the game, you’d think he was still starting. Nagy named Nick Foles the starter last Monday. Foles is ‘Nagy’s guy’ — someone who supposedly knows how to run ‘this’ offense and read defenses better than his predecessor.
Nagy’s play-calling made absolutely no sense yesterday and the Bears had no rhythm or flow for the most part. The run/pass ratio was 16 to 42, respectively. Nagy called for Nick Foles to drop back 42 times. This isn’t just a one-week thing. This has been a recurring theme with Nagy the past three years. Matt Nagy the play-caller has been questionable at best. The rest of the league has been able to pick up on the predictability of his formations and play-calling. The Colts were attacking the ball from the snap as if they knew where it was going. Kudos to Indianapolis, as they did their homework and came prepared.
Is it feasible to think that maybe it wasn’t just the quarterback play? Perhaps a lot of the blame falls on the shoulders of the guy who’s calling plays?
It’s okay if fans want to give Nagy the benefit of doubt. He has a new guy under center running the show, so there was bound to be an adjustment period. However, how much longer can one make an excuse for him? Especially if he has ‘his guy’ in a veteran QB like Foles. If confidence in Nagy as a play-caller isn’t waning yet, it will be in short order.
The Bears’ struggles in the running game are partially a byproduct of Matt Nagy’s play-calling inconsistencies. The Bears only ran the ball 16 times for 28 yards, which shakes out to 1.8 yards per attempt.
Even in today’s pass-happy NFL, 1.8 yards per attempt simply won’t cut it. The most egregious part of the Bears lackluster running game is the fact that they continue to give Cordarrelle Patterson the ball in crucial moments. It should be known that Patterson is not a natural running back. He is a wide receiver by trade.
However, down 13 to open up the fourth quarter, Nagy dialed up third-and-one give to Patterson which went for a loss of one yard. The drive stalled, of course, and the Bears punted.
Patterson is a nice option to have, but using him on third and one, when David Montgomery is your featured running back, is inexcusable. It’s fine to use Patterson because he’s another weapon in the arsenal, but Nagy needs to pick his spots. That wasn’t it.
It’s evident that Nagy’s commitment to the run has faded over the course of the four weeks. Nowadays, it feels like he calls the running plays begrudgingly.
To make matters worse, Bears running backs have yet to find the end zone.
Still, Nagy continues to harp on having to run the football.
Same song, different day. Nobody should buy into all this coach speak.
Third Down Woes
The Chicago Bears only converted four third downs on 14 chances. That’s a 28.6% success rate. That won’t sit well with the coaches and players in the meeting rooms this week. Offensive success hinges on converting on third downs to keeping drives going.
|Drive||Down||Yards to Go||Converted?|
|Avg Yds to Go:||5.7||Conversion: 4-14||28.6% Success|
Nick Foles made his first start as a Bear and it was not a memorable one. For the most part, it was wildly inconsistent with a handful of missed throws due to a lack of timing and rhythm. Not all of it can be put on Foles’s shoulders though. The play-calling and poor pass protection as well as a few drops did him no favors. Ahem, Anthony Miller.
Foles finished the game 26 for 42, throwing for 249 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. By the end of the game, Foles had a passer rating of 76.4.
Only time will tell if Nick Foles is the savior the Bears need.
What was the logic behind the move to promote Tyler Bray from the practice squad only to be inactive for the game?
Well, Nagy explained it earlier today.
Don’t Blame the Defense
Bend but don’t break was the Bears defensive mantra on Sunday. The defense did more than its share and quite frankly it’s not fair to put blame on them. They did allow a touchdown drive on the Colts’ first possession. However, from that point on they held Indianapolis to four field goals. Limiting an opponent to 19 points should more than enough to win a football game, especially in 2020 when the scoreboards are being lit up on a regular basis.
The one area in which the defense can improve is the takeaway department. Sure, it’ll be hard to replicate the rate of forced turnovers from 2018, but it shouldn’t be too much of a challenge to be better than 2019.
It’s really hard to pin anything on the Bears defense. They’re always playing from behind with almost no confidence in the offense to hold up their end of the bargain. The only time they had a lead (week two vs. Giants), the offense went silent in the second half, resulting in added pressure to preserve a lead. Which they did.
The third-year linebacker showed up in week four. Smith’s presence was felt all day, as he was all over the field on defense. This stat sheet had him as the leading tackler with 11 solo tackles, 13 in total, and 3.5 tackles for loss. One that won’t show up on the stat sheet is the insane play he made for an almost-interception. He got to the front corner of the end zone and made a diving catch on a tipped pass, but after review, it was ruled that he had stepped out of bounds just before the grabbing the football.
A for effort, Roquan.
Blah. The pass protection and run blocking were far from great on Sunday. Foles was frequently under duress and the running lanes that opened up were few and far between. This was by far their worst game as a unit. However, in their defense, the Colts’ defense is no joke.
Orange is Not The New Navy
The orange jerseys are fine, but the Bears should only break those bad boys out against the Vikings. Otherwise, stick to the classics.
What’s On Tap Next?
It’s a short turnaround for the Bears as they will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Soldier Field on Thursday, October 8th at 7:20 PM CT. The broadcast will be on FOX and NFL Network. The Bucs are coming off a 38-31 victory over the Chargers this past Sunday. The Bears defense will have their hands full with a high-powered offense that features Tom Brady, Mike Evans, Leonard Fournette, and company.
Be sure to tune in to the Bears On Tap podcast for postgame reactions, updates and analysis throughout the week, and discussions on a variety of other Bears-related topics.