Matt Nagy understands that the critical job of an NFL head coach is not the Xs and Os. Yes that stuff matters. Especially when the coach is also the de facto offensive coordinator in Nagy’s case. However, his primary duty is getting the Chicago Bears to play hard every Sunday and win football games. So far one could say Nagy hasn’t gotten enough credit for accomplishing this.
He was 12-4 in 2018, taking a Bears team that went 5-11 the previous year all the way to a division title. His 2019 season didn’t go as hoped but people miss the coaching job he pulled off. At one point the team was 4-6 coming off a demoralizing 17-7 loss to the Rams. People thought they wouldn’t win another game.
The Bears went on to win three-straight and four of their last six.
They didn’t reach the postseason but reaching 8-8 after what they’d gone through was still a noteworthy accomplishment. One that should be credited to Nagy’s ability to keep his team focused and motivated.
That trend has continued in 2020. The Bears are 4-1, off to their best start in eight years. Much of that courtesy of some serious heroics. Three of those wins involved double-digit comebacks.
- 17 points against Detroit
- 16 points against Atlanta
- 13 points again Tampa Bay
Another sign that Nagy refuses to let his team lose their edge. They always keep fighting. It proves that he is a master of motivation and fans missed a particularly juicy example during his recent press conference.
Matt Nagy used the media to needle his defense
The interview itself was mostly uneventful. Nagy revealed offensive line coach Juan Castillo was self-quarantining after having close contact with a player who contracted COVID-19. He talked about the relationship between him and Nick Foles. The usual stuff. Then things took an ever so subtle turn.
“He obviously beat us first-hand last year and did a heck of a job in that game. So he’s a really good quarterback that those guys at Carolina are doing a really good job scheming for him and putting him in great situations. He’s making really good plays. I have a lot of respect for him and I think our defense knows what they have in store for them.”
There is no way that comment wasn’t calculated
It would’ve been one thing if Nagy mentioned the New Orleans Saints game once. To do it twice signaled it was 100% intentional. He wanted to make sure everybody knew, especially his defense, that he hadn’t forgotten the humble pie Bridgewater served up to them last season.
Most Bears fans would prefer to forget it. That day was a nightmare in every aspect. Mitch Trubisky and the offense were smothered almost the entire game. Defensively they managed to hold up for the first half, but things went off the rails in the second. Bridgewater finished with 281 yards and two touchdowns as the Saints hung 34 points on them. By far the largest total that defense had surrendered all year.
Many view that game as the death blow to the Bears’ season. They never really recovered afterward. Nagy is making sure his defense remembers that hurt. That humiliation. It virtually guarantees they’ll come out fired up and with something to prove on Sunday.
Bridgewater remains smart, efficient, and underrated. This time though he’s not surrounded by elite talents like Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. If this tactic works, he could be in for a long afternoon. Another reminder Matt Nagy knows how to handle his players.