The Chicago Bears had a plan coming into the 2021 season. It was obvious from how they approached the offseason. They signed a series of wide receivers that all had the same thing in common. They were fast. Damiere Byrd, Breshad Perriman, and Marquise Goodwin all brought legitimate 4.2 speed with them. It was evident head coach Matt Nagy was hoping to finally generate explosive plays this season. A common problem the past two years for this team.
Then in the opener against the Los Angeles Rams, Andy Dalton managed just 5.42 yards per pass during the game. He didn’t have a single throw over 10 air yards. Several people couldn’t understand why the Bears didn’t try to test the Rams secondary more down the field. It turns out even players in the locker room felt that way. When asked about the big game Jalen Ramsey had for L.A. on Sunday night, Goodwin admitted the Bears contributed to it with their conservative approach.
Marquise Goodwin on the #Bears' approach against Jalen Ramsey:
"He's a unique player, All-Pro, Pro Bowler, instinctive, especially in short spaces. And us not running past 10 yards, that fell right into his hands I feel like."
— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) September 14, 2021
Marquise Goodwin on the Bears' lack of downfield plays Sunday: "It's challenging. But I mean, you just got to work with what you get. I don't control the plays that are called. I don't control anything but just going out and doing my job."
— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) September 14, 2021
One can understand his frustration.
Goodwin led the team with 45 yards receiving including a 19-yard grab. Yet it felt like opportunities were there for more. Especially with how well the Bears were running the football. David Montgomery rumbled through the Rams for 108 yards at 6.8 per carry. How is it that Dalton threw just three passes out of play action? That speaks to a coaching blunder. Something that is becoming all too regular with Matt Nagy calling plays.
One can understand the receiver’s frustration. The Bears offense actually played well for most of that game. They moved the ball a lot. It was just that they couldn’t score points. If this trend continues, it’s fair to wonder if anger will mount in the locker room. Especially with Nagy holding back Justin Fields.
Marquise Goodwin isn’t being allowed to do what he does best
That more than anything is the biggest crime in all of this. He and Darnell Mooney are two outstanding deep threats. They’re bred to run. To stress defenses deep. Not only can this create big plays. It also helps others like Allen Robinson and Cole Kmet take advantage of softer coverages in the short and intermediate areas. The Bears didn’t do any of that on Sunday night. They were committed to running the ball and a mostly dink-and-dunk passing attack.
Some will argue this was because of Aaron Donald’s presence. Sure, the defensive tackle is a terror but smart coaches can scheme around that problem. Look at what Sean McVay did to Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks. He found ways to get Matthew Stafford opportunities to go down the field. Los Angeles reaped the rewards. Marquise Goodwin can only do what is asked of him.
Therein lay the problem.
Nagy took back play calling duties this year. No doubt believing that with Mitch Trubisky out of the picture it was safe to do so. His coaching was never the problem. Yet the quarterback has changed but the same problems persist. Bears fans are starting to catch on. Seeing Goodwin say things like this isn’t going to help the head coach’s case to keep his job.