After the most chaotic week of his career, Bears coach Matt Nagy tried to relax — at least as much as any coach can during the season. He tried to balance work and family time during the weekend.
‘‘Everybody needs to have that,’’ he said. ‘‘At the same time, [my wife and kids] joke because your mind never shuts down, no matter what you say or what you think.’’
The compromise? Nagy tried to watch film and work on his game plan for the 9-2 Cardinals early in the morning, late at night or both — when he was the only one awake in the house.
‘‘That’s when you can steal some time and not get yelled at for it,’’ he said with a smile.
On Monday, Nagy was eager to turn the page from a week marked by questions about whether the Bears would make him the first coach they’ve ever fired in-season. He got messages of support from friends this past weekend — ‘‘They’ll let you know, ‘Hey, we got ya,’ ’’ he said — and focused on preparing for one of the best teams the Bears have faced all season.
And a playoff race. Seriously. Well, maybe. Kind of.
In a statement that speaks more to the ridiculous parity in the NFL than the Bears’ standing, Nagy’s 4-7 team is only one game behind the Vikings, who are the No. 7 seed in the NFC wild-card race.
But even if they somehow get hot, the Bears — who play the Vikings twice in the final month of the season — would have to jump over half the teams in their conference to reach the playoffs. Entering Monday, the Bears were one of eight NFC teams with six or seven losses.
To his credit, Nagy wasn’t about to start framing his team as a playoff contender. The Bears, after all, needed a field goal at the gun against the winless Lions to stop a five-game losing streak.
The Cardinals, conversely, would get the bye as the NFC’s No. 1 seed if the playoffs started today. They also are coming off a bye.
‘‘This isn’t coach talk, but we need to — let’s win this game and then let’s get on a two-game winning streak,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘Let’s have a little streak here. If you go out and you play a great game and you beat a great team like the Cardinals, that can do [a lot] for your confidence and your belief. And then all of that other stuff handles itself because there are a lot of teams in that mix, and there are a lot of things we can’t control. What we can control is winning on Sunday.’’
Nagy said he hopes the Bears cleared a hurdle by winning their first game in 46 days against the Lions.
‘‘When you break that losing streak, the mentality, it just helps you,’’ he said. ‘‘That’s just natural. You feel better about it, no matter how it comes.
‘‘And so to see that you’re one game out, with all of those teams that are in that mix for that last spot . . . if you’re a competitor, you care about that.’’
It’s enough to make Nagy lament the Bears’ close losses to the Steelers and Ravens, even though he was quick to say every team in the league can say something similar.
‘‘The ifs don’t matter,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘We didn’t win those; we lost them. And so no matter how we lose them, no matter how we win, our record right now is 4-7, and the goal is to be 5-7.’’