After watching tape of Sunday's 26-23 overtime loss to the Saints at Soldier Field, Bears coach Matt Nagy on Monday discussed three things that stood out to him in the game:
(1) Nagy saw some improvements on offense, especially in the running game, but the unit still committed too many costly mistakes.
The Bears produced their longest pass play of the season, a 50-yarder from Nick Foles to Darnell Mooney that set up Foles' 24-yard touchdown pass to Allen Robinson II two plays later. They rushed for 96 yards, their highest total in five games, as David Montgomery gained 89 yards, including a season-long 38-yard run. The Bears also erased a 23-13 deficit to force overtime by scoring a touchdown and field goal in the final 3:32 of regulation.
But there were just as many negatives as positives: a bad Foles interception, crucial penalties, their seventh scoreless third quarter in eight games this year and two dropped passes on back-to-back plays in overtime that led to a punt.
"I think that, situationally, there was some good; there was also some bad," Nagy said. "Offensively, there were spurts that we were better. We took some shots. We were able to take advantage of some of them and make them happen. But then there was also the third-quarter deal, backing ourselves up and getting into a hole, and we just lost that field position. That really hurt us there.
"Being able to come back, [getting] stops when we needed to, and then score when we needed to to push that game in overtime with Cairo [Santos] making that kick was great. [But] not being able to finish in overtime once we got the ball back, I would like to see us improve in that area."
(2) Nagy was disappointed with the lack of discipline the Bears showed in drawing seven penalties for 53 yards.
The Bears have committed the most penalties of any NFL team with 58 through Week 8, putting them on pace for 116. In Nagy's first two seasons as coach, the Bears drew the eighth fewest penalties (97) in 2018 and the 11th fewest (103) last year.
None has angered Nagy more than the 15-yard unsportsmanlike foul that was assessed on receiver Javon Wims Sunday after he sucker-punched Saints cornerback C.J. Gardner-Johnson twice in the helmet. The incident earned Wims a two-game suspension from the NFL without pay.
"The fact of the matter is we are leading the league in penalties, and then you have something like that that happens," Nagy said. "You never want that to happen ever from nobody on your team. It's an emotional game and people get into it. But just knowing who Javon Wims is as a person, a high character guy, that's the part that I thought was surprising.
"So until it gets changed, I have to be able to accept responsibility for it and I have to be able to focus on the 'why' part, and I have to hold myself and the coaching staff accountable because we're the ones that basically are the conduits to the players and how they're acting on gameday. Until it stops, I've got to take full responsibility for it."
(3) Getting improved play from the offensive line is becoming increasingly difficult with injuries thinning out the unit.
The Bears were already down two starting linemen entering Sunday's game, with left guard James Daniels out for the season with a pectoral muscle injury and center Cody Whitehair missing the first game of his five-year NFL career due to a calf injury.
Sam Mustipher performed well in his first NFL start in place of Whitehair. But right tackle Bobby Massie exited with a knee injury on the Bears' first drive and was replaced by Jason Spriggs. Late in the first half, Spriggs left with an injury but missed only one play. When Spriggs went out, the Bears moved Rashaad Coward from left guard to right tackle and inserted Alex Bars at left guard.
"We had some luxury there early on in the season with consistency in the offensive line," Nagy said. "And now what you're seeing is you're seeing some guys get injured, and it's new pieces, it's new voices. It's new."
Of the five sacks the Bears allowed to the Saints, Nagy felt that only the final one was on Foles. It came in overtime on third-and-10 from the Chicago 31. Under pressure and unable to find a receiver, Foles drifted toward the left sideline before being tackled for a four-yard loss, leading to a punt.
"He could have threw the ball away," Nagy said. "The other ones, I would not put that on him. I think there's different reasons. That's just where we're at. We understand that, and we have to be able to have honest evaluations through all that. [The Saints] have a good defensive front and they did some good things."