I want to preface this by saying that Matt Nagy, in getting this Bears team to a 12-4 record this regular season, has done a really good job. I also want to note that more often than not, Vic Fangio has done a really good job in his Bears tenure.
I want to preface that because, from this point on, there will be no praising of the coaching staff. Because, quite frankly, after that debacle of a performance against the Eagles, they don’t deserve anything but scorn. They don’t deserve to be praised in the slightest.
If the average two-year-old had to choose between playing with four toys and playing with three, you’d know their decision. You play with the roster of toys that gives you a wider set of options to play with. Matt Nagy and the Chicago Bears were dumber than the average two-year-old against the Eagles.
It is never acceptable to activate an injured player who you have no intention of playing and scratch a healthy one. Deon Bush is a solid safety, and a really good backup, but if Eddie Jackson isn’t healthy enough to outplay him, his name should be on the top of the inactives sheet 100 times out of 100. I don’t care if you need him should Bush get hurt, and I don’t care whether you say you are preserving him for the Rams game.
Guess what? There is no Rams game now in large part because of that decision. If you think that deactivating your now backup safety will be the difference between winning and losing, you don’t think you have a very good roster. Even before kickoff, Matt Nagy had put his team in a hole.
The seven inactive players are there for a reason. They are there to prevent teams from having a competitive advantage due to injuries. So, naturally, Matt Nagy and the Bears decided to purposely give themselves a competitive disadvantage.
The coaches were holding the players back before the game even started, and it wasn’t any better when they actually hit the gridiron. If someone understands Matt Nagy’s infatuation with Taquan Mizzell, please explain it to me. Because, as I see it, Mizzell is a less-skilled Tarik Cohen who doesn’t draw the eye of the defense quite like Cohen does. Yet he’s getting touches before Cohen?
Tarik Cohen is one of the few running backs in football actively challenging the mantra that running backs don’t matter. He’s a game changer at running back, a position where there aren’t many game changers. He needs more than four touches in your biggest game of the season.
My list of grievances with special teams coordinator Chris Tabor was already a CVS receipt in length prior to the playoffs but he didn’t do anything to put my mind at ease. In fact, quite the contrary. I have absolutely zero
There’s plenty of little decisions that Vic Fangio made personnel-wise that were ridiculous, but quite a few of them didn’t matter. The Bears got a third down stop when Roy Robertson-Harris and Isaiah Irving were rushing the passer. Isaiah Irving playing a lot early over Leonard Floyd didn’t kill the Bears, but it certainly didn’t help push back an eventual scoring drive.
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Want to know what does hurt the Bears though? Not having 11 guys on the field on defense. It’s a failure of monumental proportions that Vic Fangio wasn’t able to communicate the correct personnel to his staff, and then that no one caught it to call timeout. I’m not exaggerating when I say that an elementary school team could have ran that play better than the Bears.
Think about this for a second. You are defending in the red zone of a tightly contested NFL playoff game. And you don’t notice the other team has one more player on the field? That absolutely cannot happen. Blame Vic Fangio for failing to communicate, blame the position coaches (or whichever one didn’t get the right player out there), and blame Matt Nagy for not calling timeout. Sure, timeouts are super valuable in the second half of close games. But so is playing with the correct number of players.
I don’t care that Matt Nagy went 12-4. I don’t care that Vic Fangio constructed two elite defenses this decade. If you fail to that proportion on the national stage of the playoffs, there needs to be serious questions raised from the front office. You don’t get a pass for doing something that dumb.
That’s where the blame on Fangio may end (for this game at least), but we are far from done with Matt Nagy. They say the apple doesn’t fall from the tree, and when it comes to game managing, Matt Nagy fell a microscopic distance from Andy Reid’s coaching tree.
First of all, not calling a timeout leading by 5 while defending a goal to go situation after the two minute warning is inexcusable. There is absolutely zero downside to calling timeout in that scenario, but Matt Nagy chose to let the clock run to 1:17. I don’t want to hear the hindsight bias that it didn’t matter, that’s not an excuse for failing to manage the game properly.
The next inexcusable mistake from Matt Nagy was clocking the ball with 15 seconds. First of all, it is never a good idea to settle for a medium-long field goal with a shaky kicker, and Matt Nagy did that. But he was sort of forced into that decision because his defense held the Eagles until fourth down. So I’m not going to bash Nagy for having Parkey kick one from 43 yards.
What I am going to bash Nagy for, however, is spiking the ball on second down with 15 seconds, when his team had no timeouts. Give me the upside to this play. There isn’t one.
You can’t throw it over the middle on a quick slant, because you can’t spike on fourth down. You can’t kick the field goal immediately because you’d give the Eagles 10 seconds with the ball and two shots at a Hail Mary. But taking a shot down the field and then kicking it still doesn’t burn enough time off the clock to end the game with a kick.
This, again, is a completely avoidable coaching failure. There’s no excuse for a coach to be making a mistake like this. Philly’s not calling a timeout, you are just giving them every opportunity to win in a heartbreaking fashion at the end of the game.
Someone has to answer for these failures. This game was an absolute abomination of a coaching performance. This was Dan Quinn levels of insanity. This was a mockery of the position of head coach, and just because Cody Parkey hit the post, we are supposed to forget about it?
It’s the coaching staff’s fault that Cody Parkey even had the opportunity to miss that kick. It never should have come down to Cody Parkey. The Bears should have won the game long before Cody Parkey even had the ability to miss.
This loss isn’t on Cody Parkey. It’s not. It’s on Matt Nagy long before it’s on Cody Parkey. Matt Nagy, his coaching staff, and his coaching decisions cost the Bears a playoff victory. And someone needs to answer for that.