Bears coach Matt Nagy on Chiefs’ meltdown vs. Titans: ‘I’ll grow from it’
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New Bears coach Matt Nagy scored points for his candor in taking the blame for the play-calling in the second half of the Chiefs’ 22-21 home playoff loss to the Titans.
“Yeah, I called every single play in the second half,” Nagy, who was given play-calling responsibilities from head coach Andy Reid late in the season, said emphatically. “That there was a learning situation for me. I’ve gone back and looked at it. There are scenarios where I wish I would’ve made some different choices with the play call.
“For me, that was a failure in my book. But I’ll grow from it and I’ll learn from it. I promise you that — and I’ll use it as a strength here for me with the Chicago Bears.”
The Chiefs’ offense was heavily criticized after getting shut out in the second half and ignoring their running game with a 21-3 halftime lead. The Chiefs gained just 61 yards on 20 offensive plays in the second half, with running back Kareem Hunt rushing for 17 yards on five carries. Hunt finished with 42 yards on 11 carries for the game.
The loss of tight end Travis Kelce to a concussion in the first half played a part in the meltdown. Kelce had four receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown in the first half before suffering the concussion.
Facing a Titans defense that ranked fourth in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game and per carry, the Chiefs chose to emphasize the passing game. But they were unable to sustain anything against a Titans defense that came in ranked 25th in passing yards allowed per game (and 13th in passing yards allowed per attempt).
“I felt terrible for our team, for our organization — put in a lot of good work,” Nagy said. “When you lose a player like [Kelce], you’ve got to adapt. And I met with our offense. Our offensive staff supports me. Coach Reid supports me. But I called every single play in that second half. I stand by it. And I promise you I’m going to learn from it.”
It was a bit of an ironic conclusion to the season for Nagy. He became a hot head-coaching prospect after he was given play-calling responsibilities from Reid in Week 13 — and the Chiefs’ struggling offense took off in the final five games of the regular season.
Bears general manager Ryan Pace said he was impressed by Nagy’s response to that difficult situation.
“I happened to be in my hotel watching that and I had mixed emotions,” Pace said. “But one of the things I love about Matt is his humility and willingness to come in and talk about that moment like he did with the guys.
“He owned it. ‘Hey, guys, this what happened. I was calling the plays. This is what I learned from that moment and this is what I’m going to do better going forward.’ I think that says a lot about him as a person.”
Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash