Coach Matt Nagy’s bizarre decision to take a knee reveals a real lack of faith in Bears’ offense
He told Mitch Trubisky to take a knee on first down with 43 seconds left, choosing to go with a 41-yard field-goal attempt by Eddy Pineiro instead of a running play or two to possibly make it easier on his kicker.
Matt Nagy, the offensive genius, the players’ coach, the proprietor of the Wonka Chocolate Factory, took one look at his offense late in the game Sunday and said, in so many words, ‘‘My trust in you couldn’t be any lower.’’
He told Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky to take a knee on first down with 43 seconds left, choosing to go with a 41-yard field-goal attempt by Eddy Pineiro instead of a running play or two to possibly make it easier on his kicker.
Pineiro missed wide left as time expired. Do you know why he missed? He missed because Nagy broke a cosmic commandment, one that says if you lose faith in your offense in such a public way, you deserve to lose.
And lose the Bears did, 17-16 in a game that told us what Nagy really thinks about his quarterback, his running back and his offensive line: Not much.
Afterward, however, Nagy didn’t see his decision as outrageous. He said trying a field goal in that moment was the right call, the smart call. He looked at reporters who questioned the move as though they had a six-toed foot growing out of their foreheads.
‘‘I’m not even going to get into that,’’ he said. ‘‘I have zero thought of running the ball and taking the chance of fumbling the football. They know you’re running the football, so you lose three, four yards. So that wasn’t even in our process as coaches to think about that.’’
Someone had the temerity to ask about the possibility of throwing the ball in that situation.
‘‘What happens if you take a sack or there’s a fumble?’’ he said.
You’d lose. (Sort of like you lost because of a missed kick.)
‘‘That’s right, yeah, exactly,’’ he said. ‘‘So, no, there was zero thought of that. I’ll just be brutally clear: Zero thought of throwing the football, zero thought of running the football. You understand me? That’s exactly what it was. It’s as simple as that.’’
Nagy said the media was dealing in ‘‘what-ifs.’’ But by choosing to kick, he was playing the what-if game, too. What if we fumble? What if we lose yardage? That’s a loser’s attitude. Expect the worst and hope for the best. That’s why the game ended the way it did, with the Chargers running onto Soldier Field to celebrate a bizarre victory and the 3-4 Bears shuffling off with their third defeat in a row.
This loss isn’t on Pineiro, though a good NFL kicker should make a field goal in that situation.
And this loss isn’t on Trubisky, though he had his typical Mitch moments with a fumble, an interception and a 75.1 passer rating.
This loss is on Nagy. Think about it for a second. The Bears had a nine-man kicker competition during the offseason that set off air-raid warnings all over Chicago. Pineiro won the derby, but the number of people who had real confidence in him back then could have fit inside a janitor’s closet. By Sunday, Nagy showed he had more confidence in his rookie kicker than in Trubisky and running back David Montgomery, who, by the way, rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown.
Afterward, I asked Nagy whether he thought most NFL coaches would have made the same decision he did at the end of the game.
‘‘I’ll leave that up to your research,’’ he said.
Time prevents me from chatting up the other 31 coaches, but my unscientific opinion is that 25 wouldn’t even have thought to kick in that situation and six would have considered it, though admitting ‘‘that might be the whiskey talking.’’
Nagy made everyone relive former coach Marc Trestman’s infamous 2013 decision to have kicker Robbie Gould attempt a 47-yard field goal on second down in overtime in Minneapolis. Gould was wide right, and the Bears lost. Matt, darling, sweetheart, some advice: You don’t want to be Trestman, who found a way to lose a sweet gig by spending most of his time in the clouds.
Nagy’s players came to his defense, which is what you would expect them to do. Nobody was going to complain about a lack of faith in the offense from the boss.
‘‘He knows what’s best for this team,’’ Trubisky said of Nagy.
Nagy had a rough day all the way around. After seven total rushes against the Saints the week before, it finally had dawned on him that a running game was a necessity. And Montgomery’s effort was a bright spot. But the Bears were bad in the red zone and especially bad inside the 10-yard line, settling for three field goals and a touchdown in four trips. That included a 19-yard field goal after Trubisky was forced to spike the ball with a second left in the first half because an unorganized offense was late to the line. Boos followed the Bears to the locker room.
My theory is that both teams got together before the game and, as a protest against some injustice, decided to try to play the worst game in NFL history. That they succeeded is a monument to hard work, bad coaching and a shortage of athleticism.
The Bears are in last place in the NFC North. I never saw that coming at the start of the season. Then again, the possibility of a field-goal attempt on second down never occurred to me, either. You live and you learn. But why does it have to be so unwatchable?