Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano has heard head coaches snicker before.
“I’ve been places where there have been called plays, and guys are on the headset, and as soon as you call, like, a max pressure, you hear, ‘Awwww, Jesus!’ ” he said. “Before the ball is ever snapped, [a head coach] just put the whammy on the whole play, you know?
“But [Matt Nagy] doesn’t do that.”
And Nagy is proud of it.
“When I don’t have to go down there and talk to those guys because they’ve got that thing going, that’s what you like,” Nagy said. “I kinda just stay out of their way.”
But he still feels the defense’s impact. How Nagy adjusts his play-calling because of the Bears’ smothering defense will dictate how quickly his offense pulls out of its downward spiral.
Pagano’s defense is exponentially outperforming Nagy’s offense. Through two games, the Bears’ defense allowed the fourth-fewest yards and third-fewest points in the NFL. Their offense generated the third-fewest yards and points.
Nagy has taken different play-calling tacks. In the season-opening loss to the Packers, the Bears dropped back to pass 50 times and ran only 15 times. In the miracle win in Denver, the Bears threw 27 times — often short passes to minimize edge rushers Von Miller and Bradley Chubb — and ran on 29 occasions.
Nagy still seems to be sorting through a basic philosophy exercise: Should the Bears be more daring on offense because of their stellar defense or should they play conservatively for the same reason?
“That’s a good question,” Nagy said. “It’s one of those deals where, regardless of who you are, when you’re an offensive play-caller and you have a really, really good defense, that comes into play, for sure. I think that’s human nature, but I don’t think you can allow that to happen.
“What I think you need to do is eliminate all that and regardless — offensive or defensive play-caller — you’ve just gotta call it across the board how you see the game. For me, that’s a learning process as we go here with me calling plays as the head coach. I’m learning through that, so hopefully I can get better and improve.”
The Monday night game against the discombobulated Redskins would be the perfect time to do so.
“I don’t consider them conservative at all on offense,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “It might seem that way because you’re used to seeing them all over the place. I think sometimes a lot of it depends on the defense you’re going against.”
Pagano has proved to be a more aggressive play-caller than Vic Fangio, whose unit blitzed more than only five teams last year. By contrast, Pagano rushed nickel back Buster Skrine on some of the Broncos’ most crucial downs in Week 2. On Kyle Fuller’s fourth-quarter interception — the team’s only takeaway this year — Pagano brought seven pass rushers, including safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and inside linebackers Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith.
“[Nagy is] rooting for pressure, which is great,” Pagano said. “He does a great job delegating and letting guys be themselves and coach.
“When he’s got to intercede and he’s got something that can help us, obviously he’s right there to do it. He’s phenomenal at that.”
Nagy’s trust in Pagano is such that he has told him “it would take a lot” to “overstep my boundaries.”
“I’ll always oversee; I’ll always give advice,” Nagy said. “But I want him to come in and feel comfortable to run his defense with our players. And he’s done that.”
With great success.
“It’s about both the scheme and the players,” Nagy said. “But I couldn’t be happier right now than where we’re at.”