After watching tape of Sunday's 36-7 win over the Texans at Soldier Field, Bears coach Matt Nagy on Monday discussed three things that stood out to him in the game:
(1) Nagy was very pleased to see the Bears excel in all three phases for the first time this season.
The Bears played complementary football in registering their most lopsided win since a 41-9 rout of the Bills Nov. 4, 2018 in Buffalo. The offense scored four touchdowns for the second straight game in producing its highest point total of the season. The defense recorded seven sacks and a safety in permitting its fewest points this year. And the special teams generated a takeaway and two more Cairo Santos field goals without a miss.
"The three years that we've been doing this thing together, we've been through a lot," Nagy said. "We've been calloused in different ways. And [Sunday] for me, for our coaches and for our players was very important in the fact that regardless of who we're playing, when we're playing or why we're playing, our guys came out and they played with a ton of energy and passion. And this was the first time this season really that we put the three phases together, which was great."
In snapping their six-game losing streak, the Bears kept their slim playoff hopes alive heading into what's basically an elimination game Sunday in Minnesota. The Bears (6-7) and Vikings (6-7) are both one game behind the Cardinals (7-6) for the third and final wild card berth in the NFC. "We're now in a position to where we need to do whatever we can to give ourselves an opportunity to get into the playoffs—however we do that," Nagy said. "And so that's what we're focused on right now."
(2) Nagy continues to be impressed with how quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has performed since being reinstalled as the team's starter three weeks ago.
Trubisky had his best game of the year, completing 24 of 33 passes for 267 yards with three touchdowns and a season-high 126.7 passer rating. Most importantly, he eliminated the costly turnovers he had committed the previous two weeks in losses to the Packers and Lions. Against the Texans, he made good decisions and good throws in tossing three first-half touchdown passes to stake the Bears to a commanding 30-7 halftime lead.
"Every player in this league has their own story and we don't know where Mitch's story is going to end up," Nagy said. "But all we can do right now is focus on where he's at right now at this moment. And when you talk about a kid who has been through a lot—putting it out there, he's been through a lot in three years, four years—for him to be able to get where he's at right now, the way he's doing it, that's a credit to him. You can't take that away from him.
"What he's trying to do right now is be the greatest quarterback he can be for the Chicago Bears, be the greatest leader he can be for the Chicago Bears, be the greatest teammate he can be for the Chicago Bears, and the last three games, his performance individually has been pretty good. There's been a couple plays here or there that he would tell you he wants back—we would all say that—but I think [Sunday] goes to show, you just look at that first half, what he was doing and some of the throws he was making on his own—I like to say when things are gray and they're not always perfect, can you make plays? And he's doing that right now."
“This was the first time this season really that we put the three phases together, which was great.” Bears coach Matt Nagy
(3) It won't appear on a stat sheet, but Nagy lauded Bears receivers for throwing key downfield blocks on two touchdowns.
On the Bears' first play from scrimmage, Allen Robinson II sprinted the length of the field, shielding cornerback Vernon Hargreaves away from David Montgomery, who raced 80 yards for a touchdown. And then late in the second quarter, Darnell Mooney caught a swing pass from Trubisky behind the line of scrimmage and turned it into a 12-yard TD, thanks to excellent blocks from two fellow receivers. Anthony Miller chopped down safety Eric Murray and Robinson shoved cornerback Keion Crossen back toward the end zone.
"I loved it," Nagy said. "On the David run, A-Rob's running the whole way down the field. Just getting in the guy's way was enough, and it just keeps the guy from getting the angle to make the tackle. And then for Anthony to cut the guy down, for A-Rob to maintain his block and sustain it, and then for Mooney to stay in bounds, we need more of those."
Nagy has always preached the importance of blocking to Bears receivers, and they have been sensational in that aspect of the game. "Those guys have been phenomenal," Nagy said. "These guys right now are blocking their tails off. That's a huge part of where we're at, along with the offensive linemen. When you throw a pass sideways, sometimes it might be covered. But when the players make it work because they're trusting their fundamentals and technique, that's what you see happens."