Bears coach Matt Nagy is staying positive, but he has his limits
Nagy maintains faith in the struggling offense, but ... “Every now and then, you need to be able to show a dark side.”
LONDON — Per his own 24-hour rule, Bears coach Matt Nagy was a little edgy and admittedly still “pissed off” Monday morning after a short night — less than 12 hours after a 24-21 loss to the Raiders at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium — when he met with the media at the team’s London hotel.
But he refused to wallow in the relative misery of the Bears’ disappointing 3-2 start in what is arguably the most playable part of their schedule. Nagy’s own offense is the biggest culprit — a general regression that threatens a once-promising season if things don’t get straightened out soon. But he’s still positive Matt Nagy.
“I know you’ve heard this from me a lot, but I’ll never lose this,” Nagy said. “You’ll never get me as far as being negative. So I’ll be positive, and this team’s going to be positive. We’re 3-2, and we’re going to use this as a positive.”
Then again, even Nagy has his limits. He lit into his team at halftime, and, for all the feel-good, kumbaya positivity that creates the “culture” he cherishes at Halas Hall, Nagy understands the value of an iron hand and subtly reminding his players that he’s still their boss and not their teammate.
“We have a happy-go-lucky attitude around the building,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘We have fun. Every now and then, though, you need to be able to show a dark side. And they need to see that and feel that. It just so happened that yesterday was one of those days that they felt it. I know they felt it.”
With a helping hand from Derek Carr and the Raiders, the Bears responded with three touchdowns in the third quarter to take a 21-17 lead. And even though they couldn’t finish the job, Nagy surely was encouraged that playing the bad cop at the right time has value.
With an underachieving offense, he’s at that point.
“I had to do that last year, too,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘It’s just coming a little bit earlier [this year]. That’s where we’re at. I really trust and appreciate who these guys are as people. And I trust that they’re going to figure out, along with us [coaches], what the answers are. And we stick together. We’re 3-2. We’re at a point now where we’re going to be OK. And we’re going to get answers.”
In that regard, the early bye week after the London trip comes at a good time. Generally, teams prefer the bye later in the schedule, when the wear and tear of an NFL season is more pronounced. But with his offense in a funk — particularly a struggling offensive line and running game — Nagy said he’s glad to have the bye week now.
The “self-scouting” aspect of the bye week has a dubious reputation in Chicago after it flopped spectacularly in 2014 under Marc Trestman. After a 51-23 loss to the Patriots, the Bears promised to self-scout during the bye week and correct their issues — then fell behind 42-0 in the first half against the Packers at Lambeau Field.
But to his credit, Nagy said the team’s self-scouting will be more than a review of their tendencies to discover flaws and avoid predictability.
“To me, it’s not so much about that as it is [that] you’re really able to self-scout, in our position now, the players and how they’re performing,” Nagy said. “That’s [what] this one’s probably a little bit more about with where we’re at offensively.”
That could make it an interesting week at Halas Hall as Nagy takes a second look at what he actually has to work with. It’s unlikely there will be major changes when the Bears face the Saints on Oct. 20 at Soldier Field. But as player-friendly as he is, Nagy still has a dark side. He isn’t going to rule anything out.