Bears coach Matt Nagy on kneel-down: I would do it again a thousand times

Nagy points to Colts coach Frank Reich’s conservative approach against the Broncos on Sunday as evidence he made the right call.

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Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro misses a 41-yard kick as time expires in his team’s 17-16 loss to the Chargers on Sunday at Soldier Field.

Bears kicker Eddy Piñeiro was wide left on a 41-yard field goal as time ran out in the Bears’ 17-16 loss to the Chargers on Sunday at Soldier Field.

Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Like a good game-planner, coach Matt Nagy was ready for the question. He was aggressive. He put his opponent on the defensive, he went a little outside the box and — worst-case scenario be damned — he showed no fear of how badly it might blow up in his face.

The subject was Nagy’s decision to have quarterback Mitch Trubisky take a knee before Eddy Pineiro’s ill-fated 41-yard field-goal attempt in the Bears’ 17-16 loss Sunday to the Chargers. The numbers seem to contradict Nagy’s concern about a fumble if he had run a play from scrimmage. In similar situations over the last five seasons, NFL teams ran 48 times without a fumble. 

“Yeah, I’m with you. I understand,” Nagy said. “Did you happen to watch the Colts game [Sunday]? Go back and check it out. It’s really the same but different. They’re 10 yards further back. It’s crazy how life works. It’s crazy when teams do what they do in certain situations.

“And one of the things I left out [Sunday] — and I could be wrong on this — but check out the stat if there’s any holds when you call a run play and see what happens if there’s a hold. So there’s other things that can happen, right? 

“It’s wild because you go back and you see these scenarios. I said it to you guys after the game, and it’s crazy because you say to yourself, man, zero reflection on saying, ‘I wish I would’ve done something there.’ I would do it again a thousand times.” 

Nagy was so fired up by this point, he quickly cut off a follow-up question. 

“Do me a favor,” he said. “Go back and watch that Colts game against Denver. Watch [Broncos coach] Vic [Fangio], and tell me the coverage he played and tell me what happened on first, second and third down in that game before they kicked the game-winning field goal. Watch that and tell me tomorrow.” 

Nagy was referring to Adam Vinatieri’s 51-yard field goal with 22 seconds left that beat Fangio and the Broncos 15-13 on Sunday. On first-and-10 from the Broncos’ 34 with 1:29 left, Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett lost a yard on a bootleg. Colts coach Frank Reich turned conservative and ran two inside running plays. Running back Marlon Mack gained two yards, then was stopped for no gain. 

Nagy feels like he played it the same way Reich did — an aggressive shotgun play from field-goal range (the Chargers’ 32) in which Trubisky scrambled for 11 yards, followed by a conservative play to avoid disaster. The difference? In handing off to Mack twice, Reich at least gave himself a chance for a bigger play. The kneel-down did not.

Be that as it may, if Pineiro makes the kick, Nagy’s decision to kneel is a non-issue. An even more questionable decision came on the last-minute drive of the first half — a first-and-goal at the Chargers’ 1 — in which Nagy, with no timeouts, gave up a down by spiking the ball after a second-and-goal running play from the 1-yard line. 

Nagy said his only regret is the call on the second-and-goal run in which David Montgomery was stopped for no gain.

“[That’s] one I wish I would have changed and called a different run there,” Nagy said. 

But Nagy didn’t dispute the counterargument: If you pass on second down, even if it’s incomplete, you get one more shot at a touchdown that you didn’t get with the spike. 

“That’s a very valid point, without a doubt,” Nagy said. “But we just felt like at that point with where we were with the plays that we had and some of the plays that we used, we felt like that was something we wanted to go with. That’s a valid point.” 

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