Nick Foles, Matt Nagy playing the trust game
Their animated sideline conversation last week was part of the process of forging the kind of quarterback/play-caller bond that makes a good offense tick. “Nags and I are on the same page.”
Bears quarterback Nick Foles seemed amused when asked about the animated sideline conversation he had with coach Matt Nagy in the fourth quarter against the Buccaneers last week after a 17-yard loss on a sack forced the Bears to settle for a field goal in their 20-19 victory at Soldier Field.
“It wasn’t really as big of a deal as people think it was,” Foles said. “It was more just Nags and I talking. I’ve known Nags for a while. It was just me explaining my thought process in a situation in a way to attack the defense. That’s part of our relationship as we go forward . . . these are the first games he’s called plays and I’ve been the quarterback.
“I’m not going to [reveal the content of the conversation]. But Nags and I are on the same page. There was nothing heated at all. It was just him and I in the game trying to get better. I saw something there, and I just really wanted to take advantage of it.”
Though Foles and Nagy have known each other for years, their sideline conversation last Thursday was part of the process of forging the kind of quarterback/play-caller bond that makes a good offense tick.
Obviously, the Bears aren’t there yet. But Foles, who will be starting his third consecutive game Sunday against the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium, has the veteran’s experience that can help Nagy probably even more than Nagy can help Foles.
Mitch Trubisky and Nagy were on training wheels in the previous two-plus seasons — Trubisky as a quarterback and Nagy as a play-caller. Foles’ experience and Super Bowl MVP cachet change that dynamic and give the Bears a better chance to develop the kind of tethered coach-quarterback relationship in which familiarity breeds efficiency, single-mindedness and momentum.
“It’s important for a play-caller and a quarterback to be on the same page with that, and at times there’s trust,” Foles said. “Like if there’s things that I see, [him] just letting me roll and do my thing as play-caller — let me call a play. Of if he’s feeling something, I know why he calls the play or what he’s thinking. And that’s something where that trust just builds and making sure I don’t throw him off.
“That’s something in my past with certain play-callers where having that freedom has been huge. Coach Nagy has been open to everything. His knowledge of the game, what he understands, what he wants, is on the same page. It’s been a fun journey to go through these games with him calling plays, and I feel like we’re getting where we want to be.”
The Foles-Nagy pairing has been a bit of a whirlwind. Foles replaced Trubisky in the second half against the Falcons on Sept. 27. Then came a week of adjustment to Foles as the starter — and against the league’s then-top-ranked defense in the Colts. Then a short week for the Buccaneers.
“Now it’s nice to be able to [develop that relationship in a full week],” Nagy said, “Communicate every day in practice, in meetings and . . . get a good feel [for] how he works and what he likes and doesn’t like within our system. And now we can tweak things.
“I think it’s really helping us as coaches get a nice feel for where he’s at in this offense. Because there’s things he likes that Mitch didn’t like and vice versa, which is OK.”
What Foles and Nagy are looking for is steady growth — something the Bears didn’t have with Trubisky. So with Foles in place and getting comfortable with the offense, his teammates and his head coach, every game becomes more and more of a defining moment for Nagy and the offense.