TAMPA, Fla. — As the mountain of embarrassment somehow keeps growing, it’s increasingly dispiriting to watch coach Matt Nagy grasp for a solution he obviously doesn’t have.
He can’t fix or explain the debacle he and general manager Ryan Pace created. And, speaking of debacles, this one was a doozy. The Bears delivered one of the NFL’s worst performances of the season.
At no point in their 38-3 loss Sunday to the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers did the Bears look as though they belonged in the same league. It had the feel of Western Carolina venturing out timidly to face Alabama for homecoming, and that’s inexcusable.
It was so putrid that linebacker Roquan Smith said the path forward would be ‘‘sticking together and just flushing it,’’ but that toilet has been clogged with bad losses for a while now.
Nagy’s offense has been near the bottom of the NFL since the start of the 2019 season, he’s under .500 again at 3-4 and his team always looks totally overmatched against a good opponent.
He’s adrift. All he ever says when presented with those shortfalls is that he agrees this is going badly, but he insists he’s the right coach to turn it around.
‘‘Yeah, I am,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘I’m confident that our coaches and our players can [make] this better. We know any time you’re not scoring — we’re not running from that. We understand it.
‘‘Trust me, we want to be able to get this thing going as best as we can.’’
Trust him? No one outside Halas Hall does, and he’s certainly testing the faith of those in the building.
While Nagy might not know where to go from here, it should be obvious to him how he arrived at this point. His perpetual quest to find ‘‘the whys’’ ends definitively with Pace for assembling a highly flawed roster and himself for driving the offense off a cliff as he wastes the precious prime of his defensive stars.
Nagy talked in August about this — his fourth season — being the time he expected his offense to click. Then it took the Bears seven games to crack 100 points for the season. Even then, they barely got there at 101 as they trudged out of Tampa.
At every disastrous downturn since 2018, it has seemed as though it couldn’t possibly get worse. But there was Nagy, yelling and clapping on the sideline in the final minutes of the largest loss of his tenure.
The Bears became the first team this season to give up 35 points in the first half, and they were fortunate it didn’t spiral into something historic. The Bucs missed a field goal in the second quarter and mercifully pulled Tom Brady early in the fourth.
‘‘You’re facing a pretty good football team on the road and a great quarterback,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘In these instances, you’ve gotta be close to damn near perfect.’’
Nobody’s asking for perfect. Try for adequate.
The Bears have failed to top 21 points in more than half Nagy’s games, including 26 of 40 in 2019-21.
‘‘When you don’t score enough points, it’s gonna be a struggle,’’ he said.
It’s a nonstop echo of what everyone already knows.
That the Bears continue to let Pace and Nagy call the shots at this point is indefensible and calls into question whether the organization has any standards.
By retaining them after back-to-back seasons of 8-8 records and appalling offense, then letting them continue to preside over this season with the wild hope of sneaking into the playoffs as they risk wrecking rookie quarterback Justin Fields, it’s apparent chairman George McCaskey hasn’t hit his limit yet.
But everyone else has.
Fields, by the way, contributed to the mess Sunday. It’s important to be patient and remember this was only his fifth start, as well as to point out that Nagy hasn’t helped him as much as he should have. But it’s also fair to hold Fields accountable for his carelessness and repeat errors.
Regardless of how dilapidated the Bears’ already-shaky offensive line was as they opened with practice-squad right tackle Lachavious Simmons, Fields can’t fumble three times — losing two — and throw three interceptions. He has to realize what he’s working with blocking-wise and adapt.
But he bears the least blame for where the Bears sit. He just got here, and he’s their best shot at fixing this.
‘‘I’ve never been in this position, where I’m losing, so I don’t know how to feel,’’ he said. ‘‘My only reaction to this is just to keep working. I’m not angry at all. We have bad days. Y’all have bad days. And y’all can either get depressed or y’all can get up the next day and go to work, and that’s what I’m going to do.’’
It was a heartfelt speech, but it fizzled a bit when he closed with this: ‘‘I’m not angry at all, you know? Just, [expletive] happens.’’
A lot of it has happened under Pace and Nagy. And neither Fields nor the Bears will get where they want to be if this continues.