The Chicago Bears are a good football team. One doesn’t go 5-1 to start a season without beating reasonably okay at playing the game. Yet nobody is convinced this team is anywhere close to a Super Bowl contender. They’ve caught a lot of breaks and needed some huge comebacks to get this far. A lot of people aren’t convinced of what they’re seeing and it starts with Matt Nagy and his offense.
They rank 28th in the NFL. They can’t run the ball with any consistency and their passing game has run hot and cold most of the year. Barring a drastic change, this will mark the third-straight season Nagy has run an offense that failed to finish in the top 20. This has inevitably put a ton of heat on him. Specifically in regards to his play calling. He has no feel for the game and can’t get the most out of his players.
One former executive isn’t buying that excuse.
Louis Riddick, a highly respected analyst for ESPN and former personnel executive in Philadelphia spoke with Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune about the state of the Bears. He made it clear this is a good team. Just not one that is going to win with flash. They have a stud defense and that will be their identity for the foreseeable future.
When it comes to the offense? Nagy isn’t free from some blame but he is not the primary issue. Not even close.
“So for everyone who says, ‘Well, Matt Nagy doesn’t know how to call plays,’ there have been multiple times where receivers have been open in the deep part of the field on plays that would have ripped defenses and produced those plus-20 yard plays the Bears have missed. Those were called right. They were schemed right. They just weren’t executed properly.”
Matt Nagy isn’t the guy Riddick places blame on
Riddick didn’t excuse Nagy from total blame for the struggles. He’s made his share of mistakes. However, when it comes to why the offense is so ineffective? It’s clear to anybody with eyes that this is not a scheme issue. It is a personnel issue. Multiple times during the interview Riddick harped on how lacking the Bears are in serious players on that side of the ball.
Allen Robinson is good, sure. Who else besides him? Jimmy Graham isn’t the guy he was seven years ago. Anthony Miller is too inconsistent. His harshest words were probably directed at the offensive line which has looked inadequate, to say the least.
“They’re going to have to add some people on the offensive line in the offseason. And in a big way.”
It really felt like Riddick was directing criticisms squarely at GM Ryan Pace.
The man who is responsible for building this roster. He wasn’t done either. He directly questioned Pace’s eye for offensive talent in general, pinpointing his unusual moves for Cole Kmet and David Montgomery as the first picks of each of the past two drafts.
“Cole Kmet? Hey. Look. Objectively speaking, I liked Cole Kmet coming out this year. I didn’t love him. And I was shocked when they drafted him.
Similarly, I liked David Montgomery when he came out of Iowa State. But I didn’t love him…I don’t think you’d have everybody who evaluates football players in the NFL say, ‘Yeah, those guys the Bears took were worth that price.’ I’m sitting here right now telling you that I wouldn’t say that.”
That is some pretty harsh criticism. It’s also hard to argue. Pace has acquired several blue chip players for his defense since 2015 including Akiem Hicks, Eddie Jackson, Khalil Mack, and perhaps Roquan Smith as well. Who are the blue chip guys on offense? Robinson is the only one who comes remotely close and he was a free agent.
Few of the Bears’ biggest moves in the draft on offense have worked out. Kevin White, Mitch Trubisky, and Adam Shaheen were all busts. James Daniels is good but nobody would call him close to elite. Cody Whitehair has looked okay. Miller has brilliant moments but can’t seem to get out of his own way.
Coaching matters, sure. Yet it can’t do much without talent. The Bears offense doesn’t have enough of it where it matters. Riddick is laying that failure at the feet of Pace. Not Matt Nagy.