49ers-Bears could shed light on a Nagy problem
With a similar offensive lineup that faced the 49ers in Week 8 last year under Matt Nagy — and arguably a lesser one — the Bears’ offensive performance in Luke Getsy’s debut as coordinator could be telling.
Matt Nagy’s culpability for the Bears’ offensive ineptitude over the last three seasons is undeniable.
Even when you factor in circumstances he didn’t control, Nagy’s inability to develop a quarterback and produce an offense that consistently could score more than 20 points is arguably the biggest coaching disappointment of the post-Ditka era — relative to the job he was hired to do and the lengths the Bears went to get the quarterbacks whom Nagy could mold into stars.
Still, it’s regrettable that the former Bears coach has become such a punching bag in this town — the football version of Mrs. O’Leary’s cow. On social media, Nagy has become a symbol of bad offensive football: “Notre Dame’s offense is Matt Nagy bad.” Coaching is a tough business, indeed. And here’s hoping someday Nagy will get a chance to prove he learned from the mistakes he made in Chicago.
Be that as it may, facts are facts. And this Bears season is unquestionably a referendum on the Nagy era in Chicago (and in Pittsburgh, where any success Mitch Trubisky has with the Steelers will reflect on Nagy, as well).
And right off the bat, we get a semblance of an apples-to-apples comparison Sunday at Soldier Field against the 49ers — a team Nagy’s Bears lost to 33-22 at home in Week 8 last season.
That actually was one of the Bears’ better offensive showings under Nagy — though with Bill Lazor calling plays. The 22 offensive points were the fourth-highest total of the Bears’ 26 games against teams that made the playoffs in Nagy’s four seasons. Justin Fields rushed 10 times for 103 yards, including a dazzling 22-yard touchdown that turned into just another tease.
The beauty of this comparison is that player-for-player, the Bears’ offensive lineup Sunday won’t be any better than it was against the 49ers last year — and arguably will be worse.
Among the changes, the Bears will have fifth-round rookie left tackle Braxton Jones for Jason Peters, and likely will have wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown for Allen Robinson and right guard Lucas Patrick for James Daniels. Running David Montgomery (who did not play against the 49ers last year because of injury) for Khalil Herbert is the only real upgrade. So it’s not like the Bears have given offensive coordinator Luke Getsy weapons that Nagy didn’t have.
The Bears generally are optimistic they’ll be better offensively this year, but — publicly at least — it’s the same hopeful optimism every other offense in the NFL has in Week 1.
“If we get off the ball, we all do our jobs and execute well, then our offense is really good,” Fields said.
But Fields was guarded when asked what’s different about Getsy’s offense that will produce more points than they scored under Nagy last season.
“There’s a lot of different stuff, but I’m not gonna put it out there right now because we have a game coming up Sunday,” Fields said. “I’m not gonna [put] the game plan out there. But there’s a fair amount of stuff that’s different, for sure.”
Wide receiver Darnell Mooney was optimistic even about Nagy’s offense and sees good things about Getsy’s offense. But even he is a bit more guarded now.
“I can talk about it … but honestly, we can’t really tell until we play this game, and then we’ll see, ‘This is our identity,’ ” Mooney said. “We practice, practice, practice and play preseason games ... but until the starting 11 goes out there and plays and we actually identify who we are, that’s when we’ll be able to tell.”
Getsy’s first game compared to Nagy’s 58th is not exactly apples-to-apples. The Bears’ offense might not score as many points against the 49ers on Sunday as it scored last year. But if it does, the celebratory drink will come with a vitriol chaser.