The Chicago Bears are scheduled to face the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night in the first of their two games against each other over their next four weeks. With the Bears in the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak within the coaching staff, Week 15 could mark the return of a recurring nightmare for Bears fans: Matt Nagy calling plays.
Nagy refused to call the Bears’ COVID outbreak a stroke of bad luck. Instead, he took the high road Thursday and said Chicago is dealing with the same challenges the rest of the league is at this time.
“No, not at all, again because all 31 other head coaches are dealing with the same thing that I am,” he said of COVID’s impact on the game. “So that’s not an excuse at all.”
Nagy may want that last part back. At this point, he’s going to need as many excuses available to him as possible. He’ll need them in his bag of postgame coaching cliches. The fact several players, his offensive coordinator, and defensive coordinator could all miss this week’s NFC North showdown could, in a way, make him bulletproof. Now, he’s once again a sitting (lame)duck.
Bears fans aren’t thrilled with the idea of Nagy calling plays again. Just run a quick search on Twitter and you’ll see what I mean. But in the same way, the final four games are an audition for Bears players to prove they deserve a bigger role in Chicago (or elsewhere) next season, Nagy could use Week 15 as a showcase of his own. The odds he returns as the Bears coach in 2022 are about as good as me lining up as the starting quarterback, so any ‘live reps’ he gets calling plays—especially if he calls a good game—will help boost his chances to latch on as an offensive coordinator, or offensive assistant, somewhere in the league.
The sad thing for the Bears is that no matter who seems to call plays for this team, the offense stinks. Chicago ranks 31st in average yards per game—they’re even worse than the Jacksonville Jaguars. They’re dead last in passing yards per game. Yes, they’re even worse than the Houston Texans. Last but not least, they’re fifth-worst in points per game, ahead of only the New York Jets, Detroit Lions, Jaguars, and Texans.
As much as Bears fans want to blame Nagy’s play-calling for the offense’s failures, the reality is it’s just a flawed system that needs a complete reboot. The entire playbook needs to be scrapped, not just the play-caller. And, of course, the buck stops with Nagy, whether he’s calling the plays or not.
The worst-case scenario for Chicago is if, by some stroke of luck, Nagy calls a gem of a game and torches the Vikings' defense. It’ll be the kind of bizarre twist of fate that could build fake momentum to close out the year (the Bears have an offense-friendly schedule down the stretch). That would be on-brand for this team, wouldn’t it?
If we remain grounded in reality, though, the likeliest of outcomes is the Bears will score somewhere between 13 and 17 points and lose to a Vikings team that has enough of an offensive identity to win with just 20 points on the board. That, too, is on-brand for this Bears team, with this head coach, calling plays in his system.
Four more games to go.