The Chicago Bears suffered a heartbreaking loss against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night in new head coach Matt Nagy’s first game. Nagy and his offensive play calling were heavily scrutinized following the loss. It’s unfortunate as every reason as to why Nagy was hired as coach was everything’s he went against in the second half of the game.
When general manager Ryan Pace began his coaching search at the beginning of this year, his main goal was to find a coach that would be the best at developing quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Pace’s search was short as he was sold on Nagy who had been the Kansas City Chiefs quarterbacks coach under Andy Reid.
Nagy was promoted to Chief’s offensive coordinator for the final five games of the team’s 2017 season in which the offense averaged nearly 26 points per game. What was key to his play calling was efficient play by the quarterback and utilizing deep passing routes. Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith averaged 292 passing yards per game in his four games with Nagy as his offensive coordinator.
Against the Packers on Sunday night, Trubisky came out strong as he completed his first seven passes for 104 yards including two passes that were over 30 yards. The young Bears quarterback utilized all his weapons as he completed passes to his running backs, wide receivers, and tight end. The efficiency of the offense led to 10 points on their first two drives.
In the second half it was a completely different story and at a point, Trubisky had completed eight passes for a total of just 26 yards. The passing game was averaged three yards per throw with those eight throws in the second half. The play calling changed as the passing routes were more horizontal rather than vertical as at one point Nagy called five screen passes in the second half.
The screens were thrown to their slot receivers and running backs. Receivers Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller both caught screen passes in the third quarter either for minimal gains or for a loss of yards. These two receivers are the fastest offensive players on the team and couldn’t properly use their speed on screen passes as they needed blocks to develop.
In Kansas City, Nagy used the deep routes with receivers Tyreek Hill and Albert Wilson as because of their speed they were difficult to cover when they were at the top of their routes in full speed. It was because of their ability to stretch the field, Smith had easier throws underneath to his tight end Travis Kelce and running back Kareem Hunt leading to a more unpredictable offense.
Against the Packers, running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen combined for eight catches for 41 yards. Gabriel, who’s first catch was for 31 yards, finished the night with five catches for 25 yards. The lack of downfield passing affected Trubisky as he completed two of his final eight passes trying to work the ball down the field with the Bears losing.
Nagy was hired to build a successful offense with Trubisky being the focal point. Team revamped their wide receiver depth by adding Gabriel, Miller, and Robinson to provide passing options. In the first half, two of those three caught deep passes, but in the second half, the longest catch between the three was a 12-yard completion to Robinson with less than two minutes to go.
The loss will go down as a historic one as the lack of offense by the Bears in the second half will be viewed as one of the main reasons. Going forward, Nagy needs to stick to what worked for him in Kansas City and use his speedy receivers to stretch the defense with deep passing routes. If he doesn’t learn from the events of Sunday night, it could be a long season for the first year head coach.