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Matt Nagy acknowledges what everyone else sees: His 2-0 Bears are ‘just OK’

A pair of narrow escapes against two of the worst teams in the NFL are unconvincing. The Bears still have a long way to go.

Matt Nagy is 22-12 as head coach of the Bears.
Matt Nagy is 22-12 as head coach of the Bears.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Nobody is buying this.

The Bears are 2-0 after hanging on for dear life to beat the Giants 17-13 on Sunday in a victory that was secured only when safety Eddie Jackson broke up a pass at the goal line as time expired.

It was another fortunate, harder-than-it-should-have-been escape from within inches of defeat, similar to the opener against the Lions. Victories are nice, but these first two weren’t convincing.

That leads to the essential question: Are the Bears actually good?


Their meandering journey through the first two games says more than their record. It has been a case of bad process, good result. They’ve been lucky more than good, and no one’s lucky enough to sustain that all season.

Coach Matt Nagy was happy enough to open Club Dub and said, ‘‘The only thing that matters right now is the 2-0,’’ but he knows that’s an oversimplification. When pressed about whether this season is off to a good start, he was honest.

‘‘I would say we’re just OK right now,’’ he said. ‘‘I think we expect a little better.’’

Briefly, it looked as though the Bears would take a step forward. They jumped all over the Giants, with Mitch Trubisky leading them to a touchdown on a brilliant opening drive and Robert Quinn racing in for a strip-sack on his first snap of the season to set up a field goal.

The Bears were rolling 17-0 at halftime. And cruising from there to something along the lines of a 31-10 victory would’ve been a sign of competence. It would’ve been what good teams do to lightweight opponents.

The way last season went and the way the Bears floundered for three quarters last week against the Lions, it would have been meaningful if they had pummeled another NFL team. This was unquestionably a disappointment, no matter how badly Nagy wanted to spin it positively.

‘‘I don’t want to take away from the fact that we’re 2-0 right now,’’ he said. ‘‘We are 2-0, but what’s great about that is we know, in a lot of areas, we can get a lot better.’’

It’s fine to enjoy 2-0, but is that what Nagy hoped he would be saying, that his team needs to improve in ‘‘a lot of areas’’ after two games?

One of Nagy’s explanations for the unimpressive start, by the way, is that the Bears didn’t have preseason games or a normal practice schedule leading up to the season. That probably has an effect, but every team faced the same challenges. And his point about preseason games is odd coming from a coach who sat his starters during them last season.

Perhaps the most encouraging development for the Bears was seeing their opponent next week, the Falcons, blow a 29-10 lead against the Cowboys and lose 40-39. At least the Bears averted that kind of humiliation. And maybe they’ll get away with another game like this against an 0-2 team that just allowed nearly 600 yards.

In their own game, positive signs proved to be mirages.

Nearly everything that worked for the Bears in the first half sputtered in the second. The Giants, who lost star running back Saquon Barkley and receiver Sterling Shepard, scored on three consecutive drives starting late in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, Trubisky backslid into the type of performance that will keep Nick Foles in the conversation. He hasn’t played well enough to earn concrete job security.

Trubisky completed 13 of 18 passes in the first half, two of them for touchdowns, then went 5-for-10 for 31 yards with two interceptions in the second for a final passer rating of 78.

That was tremendously helpful to the Giants, who got the ball back at their 40 after Cairo Santos missed a field goal with 2:02 left. They drove to the Bears’ 10-yard line, and Daniel Jones fired pass to the goal line on the final play. Jackson and Giants receiver Golden Tate collided, and a flag flew.

To Nagy’s relief, it was offensive pass interference against Tate.

‘‘I’d rather it not come down to that,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘Whenever you see a flag at the end, your heart stops to think that they’re gonna have, maybe, the ball at the 1.’’

Games against the Giants should cause indigestion at worst, not cardiac arrest.

The level of drama and difficulty in the first two games would make anyone question the Bears. They haven’t looked any different than last season so far, regardless of their record, and that’s tough to stomach for anyone outside their locker room.

‘‘I don’t care how you get it, 2-0 is delicious,’’ defensive tackle Akiem Hicks said. ‘‘I’ll eat that every day of the week and twice on Sunday.’’

Players always look for the upside, but the Bears shouldn’t need another bite to know they don’t want to keep using this recipe.