In the aftermath of the Bears' 19-13 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, coach Matt Nagy found himself discussing themes that have come up consistently over the past four weeks.
While the defense held the Vikings to 19 points, keeping the game in reach—in theory—until the final moments, the offense sputtered as the Bears lost their fourth straight game. Just as in previous losses to the Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints and Tennessee Titans, the focus goes to the offense.
"Just starting off big picture," said Nagy, "obviously, we struggled mightily on offense in having the four three-and-outs in the second half. We had field position. We couldn't convert on that in the red zone. It overshadows how well I thought our defense played and the different sudden changes they had, how well our special teams played. I was proud of those guys. So two out of the three parts right now are playing well. It's been a constant theme for us."
Nagy's decision earlier in the week to hand off play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor delivered discouraging early returns.
The offense managed to gain only 149 yards in the game, the lowest output by a Bears team since Nagy arrived in 2018. Despite some positive signs early in the game, the Bears hit a wall in the third quarter that ultimately cost them the game.
The offense didn't fully click in the first half, but it did rebound from quarterback Nick Foles throwing an interception to Vikings safety Harrison Smith on his second passing attempt of the day. On the next drive, Foles marched the offense down the field, only for the drive to fizzle on the five-yard line. The Bears settled for the first of two Cairo Santos field goals.
After Cordarrelle Patterson's 104-yard kick return for a touchdown to start the second half, the offense recorded four straight three-and-outs. The team did not reach the red zone at any point after halftime. The Bears' offense has only scored a touchdown in the third quarter in one game this season.
The Bears' situation went from bad to worse after Foles went down hard with 37 seconds left in the game. In the immediate aftermath of the loss, Nagy did not know the extent of the quarterback's injury, which he described as a leg or hip issue.
"When I got out there right away, I wasn't sure what it was," said Nagy. "I didn't know if it was his ribs or his shoulder or what. And then when I saw the amount of pain he was in on the ground ... I hope he's OK, but he was in a lot of pain. He's a tough dude, and he was in a lot of pain. When you see that, and you're down there with him, you feel for him just because you don't know how bad it was."
The tasks that will face Nagy during the bye week may now include managing the quarterback situation with both Foles and Mitchell Trubisky nursing injuries. Nagy will also use the time to adjust to the new play-calling setup and recommitting his players for the season's final six games.
"When you get into these bye weeks," said Nagy, "it's very, very important to talk to your players as well and just find out, 'OK, we have this final part of the season, and we want to turn things around,' and get input from your players. What's their impression, what's their thoughts and then you take that and find out just what's best for your team."
For a point of optimism, Nagy saw resiliency in his team's behavior in the locker room after the game.
"We had some guys break it down in the locker room at the end of the game there," said Nagy, "and I was impressed with what they had to say. I'm not going to get into details of it, but it goes to show the character that we're fighters, and it's hard as it is and as frustrating [as it is]. You haven't won in a month. We've got to just keep using that persistence over resistance and just keep fighting and keep staying together, and eventually, something here will hopefully change."