New Orleans, 1/10/21
We all expected the Bears to lose to the Saints, but sadly, it seems almost as if the coaching staff expected that as well. I don’t care who you are or what your experiences are, you play to win the game and if you aren’t going to put your players in a position to succeed or even have a legitimate chance, then go find a new profession.
There are many Matt Nagy defenders out there, and I have teeter-tottered back and forth on the Nagy bandwagon, as well as the “Tru-Tru Train” of number 10, but after the performance this game, it should be clear to all the direction that this team needs to go. Hint: it has to deal with new players and personnel.
The Nagy supporters like to point quickly to his record, as do the “Trubisky Truthers.” Yes, it’s true Nagy had a phenomenal inaugural season with the Bears, leading the team to a surprising and overwhelmingly successful 12-4 record in 2018, but since then? 16-17. After that, many like to point to Trubisky as the main cause of his failures, which, undoubtedly, is a part of it. Yes, with Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson, Nagy would be a better coach, but so would every other person who has ever coached football before!
My middle school basketball coach who incorrectly called me “Carl” for an entire season while yelling at my big-bodied self to “box out” with his red face, red hair, and red polo, could be a good NFL head coach with Watson and Mahomes. Bill O’Brien wasn’t a good coach and made a deep playoff run with Watson. Mike McCarthy was regularly heralded as a “good coach” for his team making the playoffs. Why? He had Rodgers! Having a franchise quarterback makes any coach look good.
The biggest plus for Matt Nagy was player “buy-in.” Many around the NFL and within the Bears claimed that Nagy always had the attention of players, he had their backs, and they liked him overall. Well all that went flying out the door at around 7 p.m. central time on Sunday evening. He was already taking a lot of heat for his handling of the quarterback position this season, but his seat got warmer with two embarrassing losses to the Packers and Saints in consecutive weeks. Trubisky didn’t play the worst football of his career, but there were several instances of questionable personnel groupings on the field including targets to DeAndre Carter and Demetrius Harris, a hand-off to Ryan Nall, and most egregiously, selecting Javon Wims as the golden target of the day.
On the Bears second drive of the first quarter, Trubisky connected to Wims on a beautiful pass down the sideline to put the Bears just over midfield into Saints territory. What followed then was a trick play, the likes of which hasn’t graced out eyes since 2018. Everything about the play was perfect. It ran smoothly, moved the defense, bought time for Trubisky, who unloaded possibly the best pass of his career over the shoulder and into the chest of the waiting Javon Wims. Then the ball hit the ground.
Game. Over. I know it was only the first quarter, but come on, I know all of us were thinking it. You only get a beautiful, on-target throw from Trubisky every once in a blue moon, it would seem. Unfortunately, blue moons only last for one night. And Wims dropped it.
Adam Hoge, who covers the Bears for NBC Sports Chicago, and is a host for the Hoge & Jahns Podcast, noted that his will be a play that will never be forgotten. He’s right. It’s right up there with the Kelvin Hayden pick-six in Super Bowl XLI, the Chris Conte blown coverage, and the Cody Parkey Double Doink. Now add the Javon Wims Drop. All, as President Franklin Roosevelt said, “…will live on in infamy.”
The question is, will Nagy “live on?” It’s hard to determine since arguments can be made for both sides, but the argument for parting ways with him is growing, and he did himself no favors.
Other than the Wims drop, what’s most remembered in this game wasn’t a play at all: Bears wide receiver, Anthony Miller aggressively shoving, or perhaps punching, Saints defensive back, CJ Gardner-Johnson. This was a big deal immediately, because Bears fans remembered to just a couple months ago when the aforementioned Wims was ejected from the regular season game against the Saints, and later suspended by the NFL, for throwing haymakers at CJ Gardner-Johnson.
Just like Wims, Miller was disqualified from the contest on a day where the Bears were already down Darnell Mooney in their receiving corps. What makes this story even more humiliating is that Matt Nagy shared in the post-game press conference that the entire team took fifteen minutes out of practice on Wednesday to watch tape on Gardner-Johnson and explicitly ordered players to not fall into his trap. Miller, himself, alluded to this earlier in the week when he was asked about the defensive back and responded, “Who?” Fast forward to Sunday and the Bears next receiver on the depth chart after Mooney is ejected early for falling into the exact trap he was warned strongly to not fall into. It’s so crazy of a story and so blatant of disobedience, it sounds almost like a fable that Aesop, himself penned millenia ago. Alas, it is nonfiction and the Bears lost the game in embarrassing fashion.
And herein lies why Matt Nagy’s time as the Bears head coach should be drawing to a close. If the biggest plus with Nagy is his ability to get his players to buy-in, then how did Anthony Miller do the exact opposite he explicitly warned against? Was it a single moment of blatant disobedience that will be brushed off as “out of character?” Or was it the result of a culture problem starting to rear its ugly face?
Back when Wims was ejected and suspended for engaging with Gardner-Johnson, it was the NFL who exacted punishment on Wims, not the Bears. In fact, the Bears welcomed Wims back once he was available to return. He slotted right back in as the Bears WR4. He never even had to go down to the practice squad for a week. Instead of punishing the embarrassing and unacceptable act, the Bears allowed Wims to carry on, business as usual. Now, the repercussions have come full circle.
By allowing Wims on the team, Nagy stripped away all accountability. By allowing Wims on the team, Miller noticed that it was acceptable for that behavior to go unpunished in the Bears organization, which we saw result on Sunday. By allowing Wims on the team, the Bears missed their greatest opportunity Sunday to stake a claim in that game against the Saints. By allowing Wims on the team, Matt Nagy, Mitchell Trubisky, Ryan Pace, Ted Philips, could all be seeing their time come to an end in Chicago.
Now we wait. I’ll be right here with a follow-up article in case any news…wait for it…drops.
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For more Chicago Bears news and updates, follow the author Furious George on Twitter @FuriousGeorge94. He has a podcast called Full Press Bears and Co-Host of the Frustration Nation Podcast & Co-Host of the Shoot Your Shot Scorecast. Follow on Twitter @RealFNPodcast & @SYSSscorecast