Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Matt Nagy’s Inability To Capitalize On Momentum Is His Greatest Fault As A Head Coach


The Chicago Bears lost 16-13 to the Baltimore Ravens at Soldier Field Sunday in a game that will be remembered as one of the most humiliating losses in franchise history. Baltimore’s MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson was ruled out Sunday morning with an illness giving Chicago a chance to pick up an easy win against a struggling Ravens’ team. What transpired on Sunday is part of a common occurrence with Bears’ head coach Matt Nagy, as Chicago lost another game that was there for the taking.

Nagy’s Tenure With The Bears Have Been Filled with Uncapitalized Moments

Since being hired as the Bears’ head coach in January of 2018, Nagy has only one winning season in his four-year career with Chicago. He has lost both playoff games that the Bears have played in, and his offensive play-calling has gotten significantly worse each year. Nagy’s offensive play-calling has been so bad that he has been stripped of play-calling duties this year and last year. Although Chicago’s head coach has failed as a play-caller, his team has played competitive football, but they continue to fail to capitalize on any positive momentum.

There have been several times during Nagy’s career with the Bears where the team failed to take advantage of an opponent’s injury or build off of positive moments. In 2018, the Bears played the Miami Dolphins following their week five bye. In week four, Chicago defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48-10 in a victory that featured a franchise-record six touchdown passes from quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.

Heading into the game against the Dolphins in Miami, many Chicagoans traveled to root on the team while the Dolphins were forced to start backup quarterback Brock Osweiler at the last moment. Chicago would lose the game in overtime by a final score of 31 to 28, despite holding multiple leads in the second half. Nagy’s team came out completely flat to start the game.

A year later, the Bears would lose to the Saints following their week six bye. The Saints were without All-Pro quarterback Drew Brees and started backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Although scoring two late touchdowns, Chicago, in their loss to the Saints, trailed 36-10 midway through the fourth quarter, and this was with Trubisky returning from an injury that forced him to miss one game.

Last season, Chicago won a thrilling comeback against the Atlanta Falcons in week three, where they trailed by 16 points at the start of the fourth quarter. Nagy benched Trubisky for quarterback Nick Foles, who was viewed as the right quarterback to run Chicago’s offense. Foles passes for three touchdowns in a 30-26 victory. Despite the thrilling victory against the Falcons, Foles and Chicago’s offense would struggle significantly the following week at home against the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts would win the game 19-11 as the Bears didn’t score a touchdown until the final minutes of the game.

Against the Ravens on Sunday, Nagy and the Bears squandered many positives that were in the team’s favor before the game. Rookie quarterback Justin Fields was coming off the best game of his young career against the Pittsburgh Steelers where he passed for 291 yards and near game-winning touchdown. Fields against the Ravens looked pedestrian as he completed only four passes before being knocked out of the game in the third quarter with a rib injury. Backup quarterback Andy Dalton gave the Bears a near game-winning score on a 49-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, only for Chicago’s defense to surrender the eventual game-winning touchdown to the Ravens.

Nagy Can’t Motivate His Team To Take Advantage Of A Wounded Opponent

In Nagy’s four seasons as the Bears head coach, the team has faced an opponent’s backup quarterback nine times, leading to a 5-4 record. In the five victorious against backup quarterbacks, three of Chicago’s victories have been by five points or more, while the only other two wins came by four points or less. In the four losses to backup quarterbacks, Chicago has lost by three points or more in two of those four games. The Bears’ playoff loss in 2018 came against the Eagles, who were starting Foles as their starting quarterback Carson Wentz was out for the year.

A recurring trend in all of the Bears’ games against the opponent’s backup quarterback has been an inability to get off to a fast start against the opponent. In the eight games against backup quarterbacks since 2018, Chicago has only led at halftime in three of those games. Furthermore, several of those games against backup quarterbacks were decided on the final possession of the game.

It is infuriating that the Bears have not been able to have better success when playing against backup quarterbacks. With Nagy’s job on the line, Chicago’s head coach appeared to have caught a massive break with not just Jackson being out with an illness, but the Bears’ next opponent in the Detroit Lions potentially starting their backup quarterback on Thanksgiving later this week. Two easy victories against backup quarterbacks could have provided much-needed momentum to a team desperate to make it back to the playoffs, but that is now gone.

Even if the Bears had defeated the Ravens with Tyler Hundley, Nagy still would have faced extensive criticism for the lack of a convincing win. Everything lined up perfectly for Chicago against Baltimore, and it was meaningless as all of the momentum for the Bears was wasted. Nagy no longer will face questions of if he will be fired, but how soon will he be fired, and rightfully so following one of the blown chances at a victory in Chicago bears’ history.

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