After watching tape of Sunday's thrilling 30-26 comeback win over the Falcons, coach Matt Nagy officially named Nick Foles the Bears' new starting quarterback. Aside from Foles' performance, here are three other things that stood out to Nagy in his team's victory in Atlanta:
(1) Nagy wasn't crazy about how the Bears defense started Sunday's game, but he certainly loved how they finished.
The Bears allowed Matt Ryan to complete a 63-yard pass to receiver Calvin Ridley on the Falcons' first play of the game, setting up Ryan's 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Hayden Hurst two snaps later.
The defense continued to struggle. The Falcons extended their lead to 16-3 on running back Brian Hill's 35-yard touchdown run with 4:37 left in the second quarter. Atlanta then opened the second half with a seven-play, 75-yard drive capped by Todd Gurley's 10-yard TD run, regaining its 13-point lead at 23-10.
But after the Falcons took over at the Bears' 19 following a Mitchell Trubisky third-quarter interception, the defense buckled down. The unit forced Atlanta to settle for a field goal without picking up a first down and then followed by holding the Falcons scoreless over their final six possessions of the game. That included a stretch of three straight three-and-outs, giving the Bears offense a chance to rally.
"Defensively, it's really not how you want to start the game with that big play, and then the score there at the start of the first half and the score at the start of the third quarter," Nagy said. "But situationally, sudden change [after the interception] I thought was good, and then I thought we really got after Matt Ryan with the pressures. We might not have had a bunch of sacks, but we got after him and I think you could feel that with where we were there."
The defense, which registered two sacks in the game, sealed the win when veteran safety Tashaun Gipson Sr. intercepted an overthrown Ryan pass with 1:06 to play. It was the third time in as many games this season the defense preserved a four-point victory by holding its opponent out of the end zone on a late final drive.
"I feel like, with our defense right now, that they are getting critical stops at critical moments—whether it's at the end of the half, end of the game, and then on third downs," Nagy said. "We had a few [Sunday] that kept them on the field with some late hits. [But] I really do like where our defense is at right now. I think two out of the three games we've been affecting the quarterback, so I think we definitely can get better, but I like where we're at."
(2) Foles threw three TD passes in Sunday's game, but Nagy felt that the Bears' best play was Foles' 29-yard completion to Ted Ginn Jr.
The connection came midway through the fourth quarter on fourth-and-six. It resulted in a first down at the Falcons' 29, sustaining a drive that culminated in Foles' first TD pass to Jimmy Graham.
"That was the best play of the football game, hands down," Nagy said. "It's not even close. That was the best play. There's other plays that were good. The last [touchdown] of the game is right there with it. Obviously that's a big one. But you don't get to that last play that Anthony [Miller] catches for a touchdown unless you make that fourth-and-six.
"The reason I say that was the best play was because that's clinic tape for a cover-two play. We had our chip blocks down below, our protection was good, our timing was good, the route was perfect and the throw was perfect. In a crunch-time situation, you've got to have it, fourth-and-six, to extend the game. It was well-run and well-executed."
(3) Nagy continues to be impressed with a resurgent Bears offensive line.
The improvement of the offensive line remained a major storyline after Sunday's come-from-behind win. The unit gave Foles enough time to throw three fourth-quarter touchdown passes and helped the Bears rush for 130 yards.
"I think our O-line right now has really done a good job at improving, especially from last year, and there's a lot that goes into that," Nagy said. "What's really neat to see, and some of the things that I think you see some of these great O-lines that they have is, even when they're off the field, [they are] just hanging out all the time together. Those little things affect how you play on the field.
"[Sunday], there were a couple things that we saw with Atlanta that were unscouted looks, and that's a part of football and they got us on a few. We had a few more negative runs [Sunday] than we've had in other games. But for the most part, I really like what [offensive line coach] Juan Castillo is doing with them. I like the way that they're handling his coaching and schematically with where we're at, I'm excited to see them keep growing."