The most important remaining evaluation of the 2019 Bears will occur behind closed doors, not in Minneapolis at U.S. Bank Stadium Sunday, where the Vikings will be locked into the No. 6 seed and looking ahead to wild-card weekend while the Bears look to avoid their fifth losing season in the past six years.
It’s no wonder, then, much of the focus during a relatively intimate Christmas Eve morning chat with Matt Nagy focused on the impending discussions among Bears brass regarding the changes that lie ahead, most of them needed to fix Nagy’s baby — the NFL’s 30th-ranked offense in points allowed.
“Honesty. This will circle back to where, at the beginning, I go back to my very first press conference," Nagy said of what will be most important in the offseason evaluation. "In my very first interaction with Ryan, with chairman George [McCaskey] and with president Ted [Phillips] is that I felt that between all of us we were all able to have honest conversations and be real. And there’s zero egos. So when you have that and you get into these types of situations that we’re in right now, when there’s a lot of decisions that go on because we want to look for solutions, we put all the egos aside and we have honest discussions. And we talk through everything and for what’s best for the Chicago Bears and the football team. That’s what we’re [going] to do.”
Nagy is among the NFL’s more forthcoming head coaches to the media but only the three aforementioned men and others inside Halas Hall will get his side of why the offense significantly regressed this season and how much of the blame belongs with him, his scheme and staff versus the personnel, beginning with Mitch Trubisky. It was interesting to hear the coach Tuesday attempt to tackle the difficulty in separating those failures to get the most accurate reflection of how to proceed moving forward.
“You have to take everything into consideration. It does start with the quarterback,” he said. “You could say, well, you've [got to] get a run game to help the quarterback. Well, you've [got to] have a quarterback to help the run game, etc. Everyone can go back and forth on that. I think, again, just like the discussions that we as a staff and Ryan and myself will end up having throughout this process, and I know Mitch will be the biggest advocate of this, is making sure that there's an accountability from him, and from us, in talking through where we can get better.
“And then what are the standards that we set at that position? And the whys behind, you guys have heard me say it, not making a bad play worse can sometimes be better than a really great play depending on the situation. Learning that part of it and understanding that is [going to] be significant. I know Mitch is an extremely hard worker. He's going to do everything in his power to learn from this year mentally and physically. And then we need to help him out and set goals and figure out ways to do it as best as we can.”
Clearly, the standards must be higher at the position, where Trubisky’s completion percentage fell four full points, from 66.6 in 2018 to 62.6 percent this season, along with his adjusted yards per attempt declining by nearly a point and a half (from 7.3 to 5.9 yards). But will Pace determine that Nagy did everything in his power to develop the former No. 2 overall pick, despite sticking with level “202” of his offense without the needed growth from his quarterback and surrounding personnel?
There are so many questions that need answering, few of them with easy and clear answers. This much seems clear: Being a fly on the wall for these discussions would be more entertaining than watching the offense throughout much of this season.
"If you as a coach can't accept criticism for play calls when there are poor play calls, right, and the players will tell you — if I'm in there and we're going through a play and it's a bad play call, I'm gonna tell you it's a bad play call, and that it could be better, and that's my fault. But then on the other end, OK, if we're gonna get this thing right, you better be honest with your side, too. When a play is there to be made, you've gotta make it. That's the part where we've gotta get both those fixed. And we will. It takes good people and a collaboration and understanding the whys to do that, and that's gonna be our No. 1 focus and that's gonna happen," he said.