After watching tape of Sunday’s 22-14 loss to the Eagles, coach Matt Nagy spoke to reporters Monday about the Bears’ fourth straight defeat. Here are three things we learned from that session:
(1) Negative plays on early downs were a key factor in the Bears going three-and-out on their first five possessions of the game.
The Bears punted five times after failing to convert on third-and-9, third-and-14, third-and-8, third-and-12 and third-and-10. On their first drive, running back David Montgomery was tackled for a three-yard loss on second down. On the first play of their next three possessions, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was sacked, receiver Cordarrelle Patterson was penalized for holding and tight end Adam Shaheen was flagged for a false start.
“To have the start of the game offensively, where you’re getting into first-and-longs with penalties or sacks or negative plays, you can’t have that,” Nagy said. “That was the theme of the first half for the offense.
“It’s almost like it’s contagious, and that’s what has to stop. It’s got to be a positive mindset; let it go and get on to the next play type of deal. You’re going to have those negative plays at times. What you can’t do is have them repeatedly.”
When the Bears reconvene Tuesday, Nagy will meet with players to discuss why the mistakes are happening. “What are the little details that are occurring or not occurring?” Nagy said. “That’s what we’ve got to do as coaches is make them understand that you can’t do this. It always gets into the negative: ‘You can’t, can’t, can’t.’ Well, what are you going to do to make sure that that doesn’t happen the next play?”
(2) Trubisky has struggled this season, but Nagy insists the quarterback isn’t solely to blame for the offense’s lack of success.
Trubisky didn’t play well Sunday, completing just 10 of 21 passes for 125 yards and a 66.6 passer rating. But he wasn’t alone; his teammates dropped passes, committed penalties and failed to execute their assignments.
“Offensively, there’s a lot more than just one person,” Nagy said. “That’s the part that’s frustrating, is Mitch knows and I know and we all know that [most of the criticism] goes to him. He gets it. But there are a lot of people involved here that we really believe in that it didn’t happen yesterday. That’s the part that’s really frustrating.”
Trubisky helped rally the Bears in the second half, setting up a pair of Montgomery 1-yard touchdown runs with completions of 53 yards to receiver Taylor Gabriel and 30 yards to Montgomery.
But Trubisky struggled in the first half. He threw wide of open receiver Allen Robinson II on third down on the Bears’ first possession and then held the ball too long and was sacked on the first play of their next drive. The Bears lined up with five receivers and an empty backfield on the play.
“That would be one that I think Mitch would tell you he’d want back,” Nagy said. “It’s a quick ball-out type of deal. That’s certainly one that we’d want back.”
(3) With the losing streak now at four, Nagy understands the importance of remaining positive and keeping his players believing in themselves.
The Bears haven’t won since Sept. 29 against the Vikings—which seems like an eternity ago. But they still have eight games remaining and must begin preparing for Sunday’s NFC North clash versus the Lions.
“For me, that’s my job is to make sure I understand that,” Nagy said. “When you have the type of leaders that we have on both sides, you believe in those guys in making sure they communicate to you where we stand as a team. And I've done that. I've done it from that first loss that we had, which seems like forever ago. And now we just communicate.
“But that’s certainly a part of it, that’s a big part of it. And the ones that rally around each other and stay positive, which is what we do as a team is, we stay positive and we fight through it. It’s going to come, it’s just a matter of when. And I know it’s hard for everybody. It’s hard for us, it’s hard for everybody out there. But I’m all about positivity, and that’s the way we attack it.”