LAKE FOREST – Patience in waiting for the Bears’ offense to come around isn’t just a matter of games or seasons. One could say it’s been a generational problem for the franchise.
Struggling offenses have been a part of the Bears’ narrative a lot of the time since their last Super Bowl title in 1985. Many have tried to fix it, with some temporary success, but nothing has really lasted.
Matt Nagy is the latest to try, and once again, his unit is struggling to find the consistency that so many hoped he’d bring when hired in January of 2018. That was apparent last week when the entrance of Nick Foles into the lineup as starting quarterback yielded just 11 points.
It was a letdown considering he’d gotten 21 in the fourth quarter in a win over the Falcons, but a strong Colts’ defense never allowed the quarterback to get things going. So once again, the offense’s inconsistency remains the key talking point as the Bears face the Buccaneers Thursday night at Soldier Field.
So how is Nagy handling this?
It’s a balance of patience and urgency when it comes to a Foles-led offense. He understands the quarterback does need some time to get to know the nuances of his scheme compared to similar ones he was part of in Kansas City and Philadelphia.
Yet after watching what happened on Sunday, and aware of the offense’s struggles the past year-and-a-half, Nagy doesn’t want to be too patient either.
“Could we have played better a lot better on Sunday? Without a doubt, we know that. Is this going to take a little bit of time? Yes, it is. It’s gonna take some time,” said Nagy. “That’s where us as coaches and as players; as long as we understand that, but also know that there’s an ability to know that we need to get on this as soon as we can, whenever that is, and score points. That’s the ultimate goal. Whatever that is, we need to do that, and we know the time is now.
“We feel like we’re in a good position begin 3-1 right now, and we don’t want to lose sight of that. But we know too that we want to try to score as many points as possible.”
It’s a thought process shared by Foles, who’s been through his fair share of changes over his nine-year career. He recognized the need to get better while also understanding the realities of the situation.
“That was his first time calling a game for me ever and it takes time to build that relationship on the field and obviously being with new players, new system, new place,” said Foles. “Everyday is an opportunity to get better and better and better and we get more and more comfortable on the field.”
ROOKIE VS BRADY
It’s a situation that happens many times when a new generation of players makes their way to the NFL. An athlete who has watched one of the greats in the game play now has to face this person on the field.
That’s the case for Bears’ rookie cornerback Jaylon Johnson as lines up against the Buccaneers on Thursday and their future Hall of Fame quarterback.
“I’d categorize him as the ‘G.O.A.T’ for sure,” said Johnson of Tom Brady.
It’s a difficult challenge for the second round pick, who has played well in the first four games of his career after being installed as the starter after training camp. He’s second in the NFL with seven passes defended with 13 tackles, and despite facing one of the best in the game, Johnson’s not planning to change his thinking when it comes to preparation.
“I’m preparing for him the same way I’d prepare for anybody else. I’m not going into it with any extra pressure on myself or on the situation at hand,” said Johnson of Brady. “Just going in, just trying to prepare myself the best that I can, like I’ve been doing week in and week out.
We all know his resume and what he can do, so at the end of the day, you’ve got to be in good position to make plays.”
ALMOST AN (INTERCEPTION) RETURN OF THE “MACK”
One of the great moments of the Nagy era came in his first game at Lambeau Field in 2018 and was created by the linebacker that was brand new to the team that night.
Just over a week after the Bears acquired him, Khalil Mack picked off a pass from DeShone Kizer and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown in a 17-point first half. The linebacker hasn’t had one since, but he came awfully close against the Colts.
In the first quarter on Sunday, a tipped pass fell right into the lap of Mack deep in Indianapolis territory. But he couldn’t keep his hands on it and dropped it, missing a chance to either score or set up a short field for the offense.
For Mack, it was a painful moment, and one he vowed not to repeat.
“I hold myself to a high standard when it comes to that. I was devastated that I couldn’t make that play for our defense and our team,” said Mack of the dropped interception. “Understanding that, I just want to go out and make as many plays as I can, and forget about that one.
STAT OF THE WEEK: 37.5
The Bears’ percentage of allowing opponents a touchdown when the reach the Red Zone, which is the best in the NFL through four weeks.
See more on the Bears-Bucs Thursday night game this week on Chicago Football Weekly on Saturday at 6 PM on WGN-TV