Matt Nagy is a good coach. That much has already been proven. He is an excellent motivator and understands player psychology. He’s also a strong play caller on the offensive side. However, he does seem to have a flaw. It seems the young coach doesn’t always hold true to one of his key mantras: “Be You.” When Nagy first arrived in Chicago, he knew things had to change on offense. The scheme was stagnant, outdated, and laughably predictable.
In order to help Mitch Trubisky blossom, he knew he had to do one thing above all else. He had to take off the shackles. That is to say, let the young quarterback throw. Turn him loose. There might be mistakes along the way but that is part of the learning process. Quarterbacks who feel they are free to sling it often play better. This is why Nagy made it clear from the outset that his offense would be of the attacking variety.
In other words, they would have no qualms about throwing deep and throwing deep often. He even said it clear as day after joint practices against Denver last year.
Nagy wants to go downfield, and often. During the Bears’ joint practices with the Broncos last week, Trubisky threw deep ball after deep ball. After the first day of practice, Nagy was asked if that was something they want to see Trubisky continue to do, as opposed to checking down, even if he’s not connecting.
“That’s never going to stop,” Nagy quickly said. “Not in this offense.”
Well by the look of things over the past several months, it has stopped.
Matt Nagy has put the shackles back on Trubisky
I began looking into Trubisky’s game-by-game performance for patterns. I wanted to see if there was any correlation between how many deep shots he took in a given game and whether that impacted his overall performance. Something hard to ignore came to the surface. There was a definite difference. A staggering one even.
In games where Trubisky threw the ball 20 yards or more down the field six times or fewer, he has a passer rating of 82.61. In games where he threw it seven times or more? His passer rating balloons to 102.43.
Games where Trubisky threw at least 20 yards six or fewer times
- at GB – 6
- vs. SEA – 2
- vs. NYJ – 4
- at BUF – 4
- vs. MIN – 5
- vs. LAR – 3
- vs. GB – 1
- at SF – 3
- at MIN – 3
- at DEN – 4
Stat line = 191-of-289, 1,765 yards, 10 TDs, 8 INTs (10 games)
Games where Trubisky threw at least 20 yards seven or more times
- at ARI – 7
- vs. TB – 8
- at MIA – 7
- vs. NE – 10
- vs. DET – 8
- vs. PHI – 9
- vs. GB – 7
Stat line = 140-of-217, 1,806 yards, 14 TDs, 5 INTs (6 games)
It’s worth noting that the majority of the first list have taken place in six of the last eight games the Bears have played. Clearly, at some point Nagy decided to take his foot off the gas. It’s hard to understand why. Was it because Trubisky got hurt? Was it a fear of his gunslinging mentality which could lead to turnover? Or maybe even it was him adapting to having a great defense. Like it or hate it, the Bears are now 9-1 in games where Trubisky has curtailed his downfield shots.
Perhaps Nagy is going over to the darkside. Sacrificing the standout play of his quarterback in favor of winning games. In truth, that seems unlikely though. The Bears head coach has gone conservative of late, whether out of fear or design. It’s apparent this isn’t doing Trubisky any favors. He’s shown to be a quarterback who thrives off big plays. The more he’s able to hit, the better he seems to get. Whether Matt Nagy lets him off the leash again?
No one can say.