After watching tape of Sunday's 17-16 loss to the Chargers, Bears coach Matt Nagy spent 28 minutes Monday discussing the game with reporters. Here's three things we learned from his longest press conference of the season:
(1) Nagy opened the session speaking about improvements he'd like to see on both sides of the ball. On offense, the two key areas that need to be addressed after the loss are red-zone efficiency and turnovers.
The Bears scored just one touchdown on five trips inside the Chargers' 20, settling for Eddy Piñeiro field goals of 22, 25 and 19 yards after reaching the 4, 9 and 1. On 10 plays inside the 10, the offense was limited to 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 2, 0, 1, 0 and 0 yards.
Nagy also lamented the two turnovers that quarterback Mitchell Trubisky committed on back-to-back fourth quarter possessions, an interception and fumble that the Chargers ultimately converted into the game-winning touchdown.
"Big picture for the offense … stating the obvious, is the red zone or more so goal-to-go," Nagy said. "That was the deal there, 1-for-4 goal-to-go. And then we lost the turnover battle. That's where we can improve as an offense."
Prior to Sunday, the Bears had scored touchdowns on all eight of their goal-to-go situations this year and 27-of-33 of those scenarios last year.
Nagy was generally pleased with how the defense performed but would like to eliminate the 43-yard pass that set up the Chargers' first touchdown and an 11-play, 75-yard drive on the opening possession of the second half that resulted in a field goal.
"Other than that," Nagy said, "the defense I thought played well, really well."
(2) Despite the red-zone woes and turnovers, the Bears offense showed vast improvement, recording season highs with 388 yards and 26 first downs. The unit picked up first downs on 10 of 11 drives and possessed the ball for 38:00.
"As far as what I thought we did well offensively, you look at this thing and we had 26 first downs," Nagy said. "We moved the ball. The time of possession, all the stuff that you all see, we have that. That part was exciting for us. That's a good thing for us."
Trubisky rebounded for a poor performance a week earlier against the Saints to complete 23 of 35 passes for 253 yards. He entered the game with just one completion of at least 30 yards this season and connected on passes of 35, 31 and 31 yards.
The resurrection of the running game was even more impressive, with the Bears rushing for a season-high 162 yards and one touchdown on 38 carries. Rookie David Montgomery ran for a career-high 135 yards and one TD on 27 carries, including a 55-yard scamper that was the longest run by the Bears since 2016.
"I was proud of the offensive linemen," Nagy said. "I was proud of our running backs. They really stepped up to the challenge and did a great job."
After rushing for 153 yards in a Week 2 win over the Broncos, the Bears' yardage on the ground declined each subsequent week to 90 to 72 to 42 to 17 before Sunday. He vowed that the Bears would run the ball more after they recorded an all-time franchise-low seven attempts against the Saints, and they did just that.
Nagy was particularly impressed with the Bears' 11-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by Montgomery's 4-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. The coach also liked that the offense had just one three-and-out and produced six plays of at least 20 yards.
"For us to grow internally, and for us to be able to stick together and see where we got as an offense," Nagy said, "I thought that was definitely a stepping stone for us."
(3) As he did immediately after the game, Nagy on Monday continued to defend his decision to settle for a potential game-winning 41-yard field goal attempt as time expired rather than running a play or two in an attempt to make it a shorter kick.
With the Bears at the Chargers' 21 with :43 to play and one timeout remaining, Nagy had Trubisky take a knee, losing one yard, before running the clock down to :04. Piñeiro followed by narrowly missing the 41-yard attempt wide left.
After the game, Nagy explained that he didn't want to risk a fumble, penalty or losing yardage on a run play or a sack. He reiterated that stance Monday, saying he felt the Bears were well within Piñeiro's range after Trubisky's 11-yard scramble to the 21.
"I would do it again a thousand times," Nagy said. "I'm very, very comfortable knowing what I did. I'm very, very comfortable knowing that if I'm in that exact situation again, at that same yard line, I'm going to do the same thing. You got me? From further back, I might do something different. I'm not going to tell you because if we get in that situation, I'm telling everybody what I'm doing."