The Bears’ miserable 47-yard offensive performance Sunday in a 26-6 loss to the Browns exposed two failings of coach Matt Nagy: an inability to give his prized quarterback prospect a game plan he can win with and an inability to adjust when that plan went awry.
You’d think at some point — just out of concern for Justin Fields’ health as the rookie was under siege while getting sacked nine times — Nagy would’ve taken advantage of Fields’ mobility and speed and called rollout-type plays that not only would get Fields out of harm’s way, but allow him to use his 4.4 40 speed as a weapon.
“There were things that [the Browns] were not gonna allow him to do,” Nagy said. “Getting to the edge sometimes isn’t as easy as you would think.”
Maybe so, but Nagy is going to have to come up with a better plan. That’s another daunting issue for him — he doesn’t seem very good at chess. He uses his queen more like a pawn.
That’s the challenge for Nagy if Fields starts again Sunday against the Lions at Soldier Field — putting his young quarterback in the best position to succeed. That means protecting him better to run the Andy Dalton offense as best he can or getting Fields out of the pocket to do what he does best — run, threaten, force the defense to make decisions and improvise.
“There are some times that you can [do that],” Nagy said. “They had a few times where they did have the edge. We weren’t able to get to the edge a few times. So there’s other times where you’ve got to go to something else. And that’s our job as coaches to make sure we do that.
“And that’s where we learn, too, some of that stuff — like how teams are going to attack Justin. So knowing that now, we’ve got to be able to counter, and that’s what we’ll do.”
Nagy seemed to indicate that he would be more aggressive in using Fields’ strengths the next time. But at this point, you just never know.
“There’s a lot of things that we’re doing up there in the office right now that guys are looking at,” Nagy said. “We got together early this morning, and you start really talking through how things went [Sunday]. And there are some things that you learn as you go through this. And when you learn that, what do you do that’s different and what do you do the same? And [using Fields on the move], is that part of it? It can be.”
Bears quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo wouldn’t address the issue of how to best employ Fields. That’s Nagy’s territory — though DeFilippo has a say in how Fields is used.
“We’re all involved in the game-planning process,” he said. “Matt is always open to ideas. He’s one of the best head coaches I’ve been around in terms of taking new ideas.”
DeFilippo did acknowledge that Fields is “very well-prepared” to take advantage of moving the pocket.
“He’s shown that in the past,” DeFilippo said. “He showed it [against the Browns] — we threw a pass going to his left, and he did a nice job of passing the first progression, go to the No. 2, then back to the No. 1. So I think Justin’s very well-schooled in that, and we’ll continue to work on that, for sure.”
The sooner, the better because after Sunday’s fiasco, it sure looks like Fields should be the star of this offense, not Nagy’s design of it.
“It will get better,” DeFilippo said. “And we’ll look back on this game at some point in the future here and — I don’t want to say laugh, because it’s not funny. But we’ll look back on it and say, ‘Wow, what a growing experience that was for us [from] where we were then to now.’ ’’