“I think the No. 1 thing we’ve got going for us right now is we’re into the bye. We’ve got a chance to look back and really take a systematic look at the issues we’ve had come up with some bona fide solutions.”
When Marc Trestman’s words from the infamous 2014 Bears meltdown are ringing familiar, it’s not a good sign. But Bears coach Matt Nagy was echoing that sentiment after his offense hit another low in a 19-13 loss to the Vikings on Monday night.
For the record, this team isn’t on the brink of a total collapse like that team was — with its 30th-ranked defense and dysfunctional locker room. This team has a top-10 defense and a team culture that Nagy expects to keep bonded through tough times, and so far has.
But on offense — Nagy’s baby — the Bears are at a similar low-point heading into a bye week before playing the Packers at Lambeau Field. The Bears’ 149 total yards against the Vikings were the fewest in Nagy’s three seasons. Nick Foles’ 51.1 passer rating was his lowest of the season. The third-quarter issues bled into the entire second half — four consecutive three-and-outs and just 29 second-half yards against the Vikings’ 29th-ranked defense.
Nagy did all he could do — cling to the bye week as a chance to improve.
“What we’re going to be able to do is take this whole entire week,” he said, “and break down who we are as an offense and the whys and every category: red zone, third-down, short-yardage, goal-line, backed-up, four-minute, two-minute. It’s our job to see any trends that are bad and get rid of the bad and keep the good.”
Nagy is just about out of options to fix this offense, other than hope for the best. He revamped his coaching staff in the offseason. General manager Ryan Pace fortified the tight end room. Nagy switched quarterbacks. He gave up play-calling. And the Bears’ offense is worse than it’s been in his tenure — 31st in the NFL in total offense and points, 32nd in rushing and 25th in passing.
“The one thing for us is trying to figure out solutions as we go,” Nagy said. “You’re right — those things we’ve done are real. What we need to do now, as coaches, is have a mentality of . . . continuing to keep trying to figure out the why part. At some point, something has to click. At some point — you would think.”
Nagy said he expects offensive coordinator Bill Lazor to call the plays again when the Bears play the Packers on Nov. 29. He left open the possibility that Mitch Trubisky could replace Foles. He hinted at possible offensive line changes.
Nagy acknowledged the fine line between making too many changes and “the definition of insanity — doing [the same thing] over and over and expecting different results.” With most tangible options exhausted, he is counting on his cherished culture and positive thinking at Halas Hall to improve things.
“When you keep fighting, a punch will normally land,” Nagy said. “And if it’s a good one — a nice little uppercut that knocks him out — then you get another and the next one is a body shot and you just keep throwing them. That’s all you can do. You stay strong.”
It’s at least more than Trestman had. After dedicating their bye week to improvement, Trestman’s 2014 Bears had one of the worst first-half performances in NFL history — falling behind 42-0 as Aaron Rodgers threw six touchdown passes. Trestman and general manager Phil Emery were destined to be fired after that debacle.
This defense won’t allow that to happen. But Nagy needs to do more than just avoid a monumental disaster. His offense has to get better. At this point, there’s no telling how much is riding on it.