Matt Nagy’s defining characteristic, the most admirable thing about him, is that his optimism cannot be doused.
It was easy to stay upbeat when the Bears went on a surprising surge to the playoffs last season, but almost anyone would have trouble staying positive amid their recent travails.
Not Nagy. There’s never any sense of dread. He’ll wake up early Sunday with the same feeling he has every week: That the Bears’ offense will erupt and leave the Lions gasping.
“That’s the only way I think,” Nagy said. “Ever.”
He knows the Bears rank 29th in total yardage, 26th in scoring and can’t make headway via the air or ground. He knows few quarterbacks are less trustworthy than Mitch Trubisky. He knows his team scored a legitimate 20 points just twice in the first eight games.
It isn’t that he’s naïve or foolish. It’s that his confidence is runs deeper than just smiling in press conferences. Nagy will not allow the pounding of repeated failures to wear him down.
“When it doesn’t happen, it’s hard,” he said. “That part’s frustrating.
“But just because of our record, and just because of what has happened these first eight weeks — I’ll never let that affect the way I feel. And then I try to portray that to everybody else and let them know. And if there is any [sense that] you don’t have that mentality, that’s not gonna work really well with this team.”
It’s been more than a month of Nagy starting his day with that thought only to watch the offense implode once again. But if he’s ever going to be right, if the Bears are ever going to experience a breakthrough, this is the week for it.
There’s common ground between Nagy and Lions coach Matt Patrica. Both are struggling horribly at their supposed specialty.
The only team worse defensively than the Lions is Cincinnati, which doesn’t even count.
Detroit is allowing 27.1 points per game. Twenty-seven. Let your imagination wander for a moment to the fantasy of the Chicago Bears scoring 27 points in 2019.
The Lions gave up 99 points over their last three games. They can’t stop the run or the pass, ranking bottom-six defensively in both. They have three interceptions this season, don’t get many sacks (one every 23.4 drop-backs) and they give away third-down conversions like free samples at Costco.
They’re depleted at safety after trading Quandre Diggs last month and ruling out Miles Killebrew and Tracy Walker this week with injuries.
That’s exactly the medicine for what ails the Bears.
And don’t dismiss what a nice afternoon offensively would do for this team, even against the Lions. There’s a cloud over the locker room because both the offense and defense know that only one side is doing its job, and there’s only so long it can sit hang before it bursts into a downpour.
But an outburst by the offense and a win — it’d be the Bears’ first since Sept. 29 — would change everything. At minimum, it would brighten the mood at Halas Hall and remind the team what confidence feels like as it attempts the near-impossible task of saving this season.