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Chalk Talk: Did Bears take foot off gas pedal Sunday?

Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.

I was disappointed that the Bears had to sweat out Sunday's win over the Giants after building a 17-0 halftime lead. I thought it should have been a blowout victory. Do you think they took their foot off the gas pedal in the second half?
Don K.
Indiana

That's been a popular topic of conversation since Sunday, and one that coach Matt Nagy addressed in his Monday press conference. If you look at the box score of the game, it may lead you to believe that the Bears took their foot off the gas in the second half given that they were held scoreless. And even though Nagy said there were some play calls he'd like to have back, I don't really feel like the Bears took their foot off the gas. They did run more than pass in the second half—15 rushes by running backs versus 10 passes—but seven of those runs came on a possession that began with 7:43 left in the fourth quarter with the Bears protecting a 17-13 lead. I thought the biggest issue on offense in the second half was a lack of execution in the passing game, most notably on the two interceptions. And I don't blame the second pick on Mitchell Trubisky; it was simply an excellent play by Giants cornerback James Bradberry to rip the ball away from receiver Allen Robinson II as both fell to the ground. I think Robinson catches that ball nine out of 10 times.

Here's what Nagy said about whether the Bears took their foot off the gas in the second half: "When the game's over, you go back and you start looking at where you're at. Like, for me as a play-caller, you say 'OK, we have this aggressive and attacking mentality that we're using this whole year, and so when you go into the second half, that doesn't mean that you have to be throwing it all the time to do that.' Now when you have that lead, you want to be able to still be balanced; you don't want to be one-dimensional via the pass and you don't want to be one-dimensional via the run. What I would say is: I was OK with how things went in the third [quarter] initially. I do wish I had a couple play-calls back. There's a couple times even after I called it, you get that feeling you wish you would have had one or two of those back. But then I also say, 'OK, there's some plays where there's some execution to be made, where we can make some plays and keep that thing going.' So we'll keep working through that. But the foot on the gas or foot off the gas, it obviously looks like that now and we want to make sure we as coaches, myself included, don't do that and that we give our guys the best opportunity."

Why did the Bears attempt a long field goal late in Sunday's game with their backup kicker? I thought they should have tried to pick up the first down or maybe even punt. What did you think about that decision?
Kevin G.
Port Charlotte, Florida

The situation you're referring to occurred with the Bears leading 17-13 and facing fourth-and-10 from the Giants' 32 with 2:07 left in the game. Cairo Santos missed a 50-yard field goal attempt and the Giants took over at their own 40, needing a touchdown to win the game. In terms of the decision to try the field goal, I agree with it 100 percent. While he is replacing the injured Eddy Piñeiro, Santos is an experienced NFL kicker who is more than capable of making a 50-yard field goal when weather isn't a factor. The Bears have been criticized by fans and media in the past for keeping their offense on the field and not trying long field goals. That was the case in the first quarter of their season opener in Detroit when they tried (and failed) to pick up a first down on fourth-and-7 from the Lions' 34 instead of trying a 52-yard field goal. The kick against the Giants would have given the Bears a seven-point lead, preventing them from losing in regulation on a late touchdown. It was fourth-and-10, so I think the chances of making the field goal are much better than picking up a first down. And if you punt the ball into the end zone for a touchback in that situation, you're only gaining 12 yards in field position. So like I said, I agreed with the decision.

How many times have the Bears made the playoffs after they've started a season 2-0?
Bill P.
Dublin, Ohio

This year marks the fifth time the Bears have opened 2-0 since 2002 when the NFL realigned into eight four-team divisions. On the previous four occasions, they qualified for the playoffs twice, both times capturing the NFC North title. In 2006, they won the NFC Championship with a 13-3 record before losing to the Colts in Super Bowl XLI. In 2010, they finished 11-5 and beat the Seahawks in the playoffs before losing to the Packers in the NFC Championship Game. The two 2-0 starts that did not result in a playoff berth occurred in 2002 when the Bears stumbled to a 4-12 record while playing their home games at the University of Illinois in Champaign while Soldier Field was being rebuilt, and in 2013 when they finished 8-8.

Chalk Talk features fan questions multiple times each week. Email your question to Larry.

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