GLENDALE, Ariz. — Bears coach Matt Nagy seemed eager to shock the world.
The Bears had a fourth-and-one at the Cardinals’ 25 and trailed by a point with 4:34 left Sunday. A field goal made sense for the Bears. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky was erratic; their defense was dominant.
Nagy, though, kept Trubisky and the offense on the field. He looked ready to go for it . . . and then he called a timeout, the Bears’ second in the second half.
“We just wanted to make sure that we were doing the right thing as far as kicking the field goal,” Nagy said.
The Bears settled for a 43-yard field goal by Cody Parkey. Nagy’s timeout, however, shouldn’t be forgotten in an ugly 16-14 victory for the Bears at State Farm Stadium.
It summed up the growing pains that Trubisky and Nagy, the Bears’ primary play-caller, are experiencing together early in the season.
“I’m growing right now with decision-making,” Nagy said. “This isn’t just about our offense or just about No. 10. This is about me growing, too.”
A similar situation unfolded late in the second quarter.
Trubisky and the offense were stopped at the Cardinals’ 2. Nagy sent out Trubisky, then called a timeout. He indicated the timeout was the result of a personnel issue. But after a Cardinals timeout, Parkey kicked a 20-yard field goal, the Bears’ first points of the game.
“These are all situations for me where I’m learning as I go,” Nagy said. “And it’s going to make me better.”
But when is Trubisky going to play better for Nagy?
That’s all that matters after three games. Nagy should be exuding optimism after the Bears’ 2-1 start, but Trubisky still hasn’t delivered the type of performance that will silence his growing critics and force opponents to respect what he can do with his arm.
“The great thing about it is we find ways to get W’s as a team,” Trubisky said. “[But] we know we’re not even close to where we want to be on offense. I’m really tough on myself, and I know I can play a lot better.”
With a variety of pressures and blitzes, the Cardinals tested Trubisky’s resolve. In the third quarter, Arizona even declined an illegal-shift penalty, preferring to keep Trubisky in a second-and-10 on the Bears’ 33.
Trubisky (24-for-35, 220 yards, one interception, 73.5 passer rating) responded with arguably his best throw this season: a 39-yard strike to wide receiver Allen Robinson down the right sideline.
Seven plays later, running back Jordan Howard scored on a one-yard run.
But the Bears found the end zone only after Trubisky’s worst throw fell incomplete. He committed a cardinal sin of quarterbacking by throwing across his body into the middle of the field. Cardinals safety Tre Boston failed to make the interception, which would have been his second after diving to pick off Trubisky’s tipped pass late in the second quarter.
“All you can do is not let it get to you and not let if affect the next play,” Trubisky said.
For the second consecutive week, Nagy thought Trubisky did that well. But eventually turning the page needs to result in touchdowns. Nagy’s offense only has produced four touchdowns in three games.
“I understand that it’s a process; he sometimes doesn’t,” Nagy said. “He’s just very focused and driven to be absolutely perfect.
“As we go through this as an offensive staff, we’re taking our time to figure it out. I know people don’t understand this. It takes time. We will get this.”
Nagy’s process with Trubisky needs to produce more points. Everyone sees that.
“We got fortunate with our defense because field goals just don’t win you games,” Nagy said.
“But that’s OK right now. We’ll just keep working through these things.”