Few coaches are as sunny and optimistic as the Bears’ Matt Nagy, so it qualified as a full-blown eruption when he dropped ‘‘darn it’’ and ‘‘freakin’ ’’ as he unleashed frustration with his own offense.
Rather than revel in the Bears’ 4-1 start after they beat the Buccaneers 20-19 on Thursday, Nagy woke up livid with an offense that can’t run, regularly stumbles into impossible third-and-long quagmires and has one of the NFL’s most feeble passing games.
Nagy kept it PG, but this surely was his version of a tirade.
‘‘It’s just — it’s everything right now,’’ he said. ‘‘You need to do everything exactly the way it is supposed to be done. . . . I refuse to allow this to happen. Us as coaches [need to be] the greatest teachers we can be, and then as players, you better be the best students you can be. And if you’re not, we’re going to have to figure something out.
‘‘I love our guys, and the effort that they have is phenomenal. None of it is effort. None of it is not caring. But darn it, when you play in this offense, you better be freakin’ detailed. And we’re not a detailed football team on offense right now. We need to get that back.’’
The Bears pulled out an important victory on Cairo Santos’ 38-yard field goal with 1:13 left, but they totaled 35 yards on 14 rushes, averaged a paltry 4.6 yards per pass and converted only three of 10 third downs.
That’s abysmal, but it was curious that Nagy finally hit his boiling point Friday when these issues have plagued his entire tenure. In his two-plus seasons, the Bears are 19th in scoring, 30th in yards per carry, 21st in passer rating and 23rd in third-down success.
That last category seemed to send him over the edge, and his team is last at 33.3% conversions this season. Nagy often says he doesn’t have a page in the playbook for third-and-a-million, but he might want to create one.
Imagine his dismay when first-and-10 from the Bucs’ 15-yard line in the fourth quarter spiraled into third-and-29 and, ultimately, a 47-yard field goal. That came after quarterback Nick Foles got sacked, running back David Montgomery ran for three yards and tight end Cole Kmet was called for a false start.
The Bears also slipped into third-and-17, -18 and -19 in the second half.
‘‘I’ve never been a part of something [that bad],’’ Nagy said. ‘‘So we’ve got to get that, that, that — that thing there has to get fixed. That’s that. Offensively, we’ve got some stuff to do.’’
Specifically, that “stuff” includes receivers running more precise routes. Nagy cited examples of players running three steps when it should be five and seven when it should be three. He also said that blocks are not being ‘‘set a certain way’’ and that Foles has been late or off-target on passes.
For his part, it must be exasperating to be in Year 3 of seeing some perfectly schemed plays go sideways because of a quarterback error or a receiver running the wrong route. To open the second quarter, for example, receiver Darnell Mooney was open for what could have been a 52-yard touchdown pass, but Foles’ pass missed him by a mile.
Most of Nagy’s rant was directed at plays, but he also took aim at his decisions. He didn’t specify what mistakes he made, but he has been open about his habit of abandoning the running game, and his team has rushed a combined 30 times for 63 yards in the last two games.
‘‘Make the right play-call at the right time, meaning myself,’’ he said. ‘‘So we’re all in this thing together.’’
So while the collective-bargaining agreement guarantees players the weekend off after a Thursday game, it doesn’t sound as though Nagy and his staff will be kicking back.
Instead, they’ll be smoldering as they use the extra time to figure out what plays work and who can run them properly. It’s a crucial chance to self-assess and make changes before the Bears begin practicing for their game Oct. 18 against the Panthers. Nagy clearly knows how bad the problem is, but it’s his job to find a solution.
‘‘You start wondering about the sloppiness and where things are at and how to get to where we need to go . . . and the details right now in this offense are not there,’’ he said. ‘‘So that’s our job as coaches to make sure that we get these freakin’ details right. It’s as simple as that.’’