For all the criticism Matt Nagy leveled at his offense Friday, at least his quarterback knew what down it was.
Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady sure didn’t seem to know Thursday night, when he held up four fingers — thinking fourth down was still coming up — after turning the ball over on downs with 33 seconds to play in the Bears’ 20-19 victory.
“I don’t know how to answer it for him,” Bucs coach Bruce Arians told reporters Friday. “We all knew it was fourth down. He saw what he saw, you know?”
Here are three things — some good, some bad — Nagy saw in his own quarterback:
The biggest play
The Bears’ most important play came because of Nick Foles’ communication at the line of scrimmage. On second-and-11 at the Bucs’ 42 with 1:42 left, the Bears flanked two receivers and a tight end right and Allen Robinson just inside the numbers on the left. David Montgomery started off split wide left but motioned to the backfield, directly to Foles’ left, before the snap.
When he did, Foles noticed outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett wiggle his fingers to signal to safety Antoine Winfield that he’d cover Montgomery out of the backfield.
Foles barked out instructions. He used a code word — “dead” — to tell tackle Charles Leno that Barrett wasn’t rushing. He yelled “rub” at Robinson, telling him to run a rub route, ostensibly a basketball pick with no contact, on Barrett as he chased Montgomery on a wheel route.
Robinson ran about two yards, turned around and stepped in between Barrett and Montgomery.
With the Buccaneers blitzing, Foles backpedaled just long enough to loft a throw up the left sideline. Montgomery caught it behind the two defenders — Barrett and Robinson’s man — but in front of the safety, logging 17 yards and a first down at the 25. Five yards later, the Bears kicked the eventual game-winner.
“It’s a look based off of what they give us — that’s not giving anything away,” said Nagy, who was otherwise annoyed with offensive sloppiness. “Again, I talk about details. Well, that’s a detailed route in the right way. That’s a good detail that they did. So you appreciate when you do details the right way, it’s amazing how things work. And so you trust the details, you do the details. And then it happens.”
Foles threw 62% of his passes outside the numbers Thursday, the highest rate of any quarterback this year, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
The play went viral Friday morning when analyst Emmanuel Acho — the brother of former Bears linebacker Sam Acho — used the play to illustrate why the Bears are starting the right quarterback.
“That was a great play; it was a great throw,” Nagy said. “David saw it coming. They tried to peel off on it. And Nick put enough air on it [for] a catch and then get out of bounds.”
Fox cameras captured Nagy and Foles having an animated talk after the Bears were forced to settle for a field goal early in the fourth quarter.
The Bears went no-huddle after converting second-and-three to get to the Bucs’ 15, and Foles wanted to do it again.
But rather than keep going fast, Nagy sent in new personnel for a red-zone play he liked.
Cordarrelle Patterson lined up at running back left of Foles and ran a corner route. He was wide open in the end zone, but Jason Pierre-Paul sacked Foles, causing a fumble Bobby Massie recovered.
The conversation “wasn’t [Foles] criticizing me or me criticizing him,” Nagy said.
“Everyone’s angry and upset because we’re in such a great place, and then all of a sudden that happens,” Nagy said. “That part there, I like the fact that he’s communicating that way. And now, it’s just for us, we just got to keep growing so as to, ‘OK, next time we get in that situation, how do we communicate through that to put our team in the best situation possible?’ ”
Those conversations happen all the time, Nagy said.
“It’s just probably magnified because we had a sack,” he said. “You guys would never even know it if we would have ended up throwing a touchdown to [Patterson] there in the corner.”
Foles made poor throws — he sailed a pass to Robinson on third-and-two to end the Bears’ first drive and missed Darnell Mooney on a deep shot, sure to be a touchdown, on the first play of the second quarter.
But Nagy seemed most exasperated by how the offense started the third quarter. The Bears went three-and-out on the first two drives of the half.
They started the half with a run for no gain, a Cole Kmet holding call, a three-yard pass, a nine-yard pass and a punt. After the Bucs kicked a field goal, the Bears ran for one yard, were sacked for a loss of nine, threw an incompletion and punted again.
“We had some momentum going there at the end of the second quarter and we got it back, and we felt a little groove,” Nagy said after the game. “But to come out and have penalty, penalty, second-and-forever, third-and-forever [on] the first two drives of the third quarter, that’s deflating.”