The Bears' quick turnaround this week will give the team another chance to make the offense click under new starting quarterback Nick Foles.
After a stunning debut in which Foles threw three fourth-quarter touchdowns to spark a comeback against the Atlanta Falcons, Foles struggled in his first start against the Indianapolis Colts.
Speaking to the media Tuesday, coach Matt Nagy balanced criticism of his offense's performance with optimism that time and experience will fix some of the issues that plagued the team on Sunday.
"Could we have played a lot better on Sunday?" said Nagy. "Without a doubt. We know that. Is this going to take a little bit of time? Yes, it is. It is going to take some time, and so that is where us as coaches and as players, as long as we understand that but also know that we need to get on this as soon as we can—whenever that is—and score points. That's the ultimate goal."
Foles and Nagy have a well-documented history, having worked together in Philadelphia and Kansas City. However, their last season together, with the 2016 Chiefs, happened under dramatically different circumstances.
Nagy was quarterbacks coach under offensive coordinator Brad Childress. Foles was the backup to Alex Smith. As such, their game experience together is on the light side.
"Every day we have been working together is an opportunity to grow and get to know each other," said Foles. "Obviously, we've known each other for a long time, but that was just [Nagy's] first time calling a game for me, ever. It takes time to build that relationship on the field and obviously being with new players [and in a] new place."
Foles' numbers against the Colts were improved by his performance on the Bears' two scoring drives in which he completed 13 of 14 passes for 172 yards. The rest of the game saw Foles go 13 of 28 for 77 yards.
Still, the coaching staff took some positives away from the performance.
"I think when you look at how our team played when he was in [against the Falcons]," said offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, "and compare it to how our team played in this game, you see so many differences. Obviously, we come out disappointed with the points we scored and the way the game ended. I actually feel pretty good about some of the underlying things that we did, how we communicated, how we operated on the sideline. Don't underestimate the first time a guy prepares and gets ready to start."
Foles expects that the Bears will be sharper in high-leverage situations against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Thursday night, as the team feels pressure to put things together on the fly.
"The big thing is execution," said Foles, "and especially in key times—third down, red zone, stuff like that. That's what we work on every single day. Obviously, there is a sense of urgency to get to where we want to be, but that is what we are doing right now. We're getting ready for our practice and continue to improve."
The sense of urgency may come from knowing how quickly a 3-1 start can give way to 8-8 season, as happened to the team last year. However, Foles believes in keeping a clear head and staying above the pressure of the situation.
"The big thing that I've learned," said Foles, "is whenever those distractions come to my mind—which they do, just like everyone else—I say 'That doesn't help me at all.' All I can do is hone in on this moment right now. It alleviates all those anxieties and stressors that we all as human beings experience; even if we don't talk about them, we do. We, as professional athletes, experience them just as much. That's really helped me throughout my career and life situations as well."