After watching tape of Thursday night's 20-19 comeback win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Soldier Field, Bears coach Matt Nagy on Friday discussed three things that stood out to him in the game.
(1) While Nagy is pleased the Bears are 4-1, he's clearly not happy with an offense that continued to sputter at times Thursday night.
"I thought offensively, just looking at it and you start wondering about the sloppiness and where things are at and how to get to where we need to go," a fiery Nagy said. "I just look back after watching the tape and the details right now in this offense are not there. So that's our job as coaches to make sure that we get these freakin' details right. It's as simple as that."
Nagy was particularly perturbed that the offense allowed sacks and committed penalties throughout the second half, consistently resulting in third-and-long scenarios. The Bears did not score a touchdown after halftime while converting just 1-of-6 third-down opportunities.
"To be in a situation like we were yesterday in that second half," Nagy said, "I've never been a part of something of third-and-17, third-and-18, third-and-2, third-and-24, third-and-29, third-and-19, third-and-8, third-and-9 and third-and-9. That thing there has to get fixed. That's that. Offensively, we've got some stuff to do."
When the Bears return to work Monday after having the weekend off, the focus on offense no doubt will be on paying greater attention to detail.
"When you try to make plays go and when you coach plays schematically, us as coaches and them as players, you need to do everything exactly the way it is supposed to be done," Nagy said. "So if that means running a route at five steps and not three steps, or if that means running a route at three steps and not seven steps, that has to happen. If it means to set a certain way and block somebody, that's what that means. If it means to throw on a certain time with your feet, do that. If it means to make the right play call at the right time, then do that as coaches—meaning myself.
"We're all in this thing together. But I refuse to allow this to happen. And us as coaches, we're going to use the next couple days here to make sure that whatever we're doing, we're being the greatest teachers we can be. And then on your end as players, you better be the best students you can be. And if you're not, we're going to have to figure something out. That's my challenge to the offense right now.
"Nothing's [a lack of] effort. There's zero [problems with] effort. I love our guys and the effort that they have is phenomenal. None of it is effort. None of it is not caring. But darn it, when you play in this offense, you better be freaking detailed. And we're not a detailed football team on offense right now. And we need to get that back."
(2) Nagy was impressed with how the Bears performed on defense and special teams.
The defense allowed just one touchdown Thursday night, forcing an explosive Buccaneers offense led by future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady to settle for four field goals. That included just one TD and two field goals on three red-zone possessions. The Bears recorded three sacks—two by Khalil Mack—and eight quarterback hits on Brady, who had thrown five touchdown passes last Sunday in a 38-31 comeback win over the Chargers in Los Angeles.
Most importantly, the defense clinched the win by forcing the Buccaneers to turn the ball over on downs with :33 remaining. On fourth-and-6 from the Tampa Bay 41, safety DeAndre Houston-Carson broke up Brady's pass intended for tight end Cameron Brate. It was the first career pass breakup for Houston-Carson, who was pressed into action on defense because reserve safeties Deon Bush and Sherrick McManis both sat out the game with injuries.
"Defensively, I'm proud of our guys," Nagy said. "They got after them. That's a good offense that they have."
The Bears also excelled on special teams. Cairo Santos made both of his field-goal attempts in the game in the fourth quarter, resulting in leads of 17-16 with 10:34 to play and 20-19 with just 1:13 remaining. Cordarrelle Patterson provided the offense with excellent field position by averaging 39.7 yards on three kickoff returns with a long of 47 yards.
"Special teams did a great job last night," Nagy said. "I'm proud of those guys, like I said [Thursday night]. No change there after watching all the tape. [But] until we get our details right on offense, we're going to continue to be this way. So that's my challenge to us as coaches and to us as players, is we get the details right. When we start doing that, we start playing better football on offense."
“When you play in this offense, you better be freaking detailed. And we’re not a detailed football team on offense right now.” Bears coach Matt Nagy
(3) Nagy got Patterson more involved on offense and was pleased with the results.
The dynamic receiver-turned-running back caught three passes for 38 yards—his best output in 21 games with the Bears. Patterson's 25-yard catch from Nick Foles resulted in a first down at the Buccaneers' 3-yard line late in the first half, setting up David Montgomery's 3-yard touchdown run.
"We're trying to get [Patterson] going as much as we can," Nagy said. "He's such a weapon for us. It just so happened yesterday there were a couple of plays where we were able to get him the ball and take advantage. You can see when he catches that ball on the outside there, you see that and feel the burst and power that he has, the speed. The more that we can continue to keep using him in different ways, the better for us."