The Detroit Lions should have been the panacea to cure the 2020 Chicago Bears five game skid. Instead, the Lions scored twice in the last two minutes of the game to upend their NFC North rivals. The final score was aided by a strip sack on 3rd and 4 inside their own 20 yard line. Detroit scored two plays later.
Yet, Chicago still had a chance, driving down the field from their own 25 to the Lions’ 20 where a 4th down attempt came up short.
Interim Detroit coach Darrell Bevell won his first game calling it ‘amazing’. He said, “these players, they just did such a great job. They never measured the game. They continued to play, you know, for 60 minutes. The effort with which they played with, the enthusiasm, playing for one another, believing in themselves was just amazing. You gotta give those guys credit. At the end of the game I think that was really telling of where these guys are at, you know, to get a major turnover there in the red area, for us to be able to run that ball in. Then we kicked the ball off and tackled inside the 20. And then to finish on a 4th and 1, you know, gotta have a situation to get a fourth down stop. I mean I think that says all you need to really ask about today’s game and how these players played and reacted. So excited for them. It was a crazy, amazing week, and I just couldn’t be happier with how they did today.”
Last week, Matt Nagy angrily called the Packers loss “embarrassing,” while on Sunday, he more somberly discussed the Lions loss saying, “we’re all disappointed. It’s a tough one.”
This failure is only going to increase the calls for his firing.
Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times asked Nagy if he was worried about his job. Nagy was diplomatic, but stated, “I don’t get into speculation on any of that. What my job is to do, is to make sure that each and every week I’m giving it everything I can as a coach and as a leader with these guys. I have to make sure I do that and any other thing that’s a distraction, that would be taking away from our team and that would be not good for me or them, and I just — so I don’t even get into that.”
Matthew Stanford had high praise for his offensive line. “They’re a really good defense,” he said. “It’s a great front and a really good back end. So I gotta give a ton of credit to our offensive line. They did an outstanding job of giving me time in the pocket. Obviously Matt Nelson had to come in and block Khalil Mack all day. (The) guy was playing defensive line two years ago. So pretty impressive what he was able to do today; and, really, all those guys up front did a great job. So without time, I can’t get the ball down the field. And then our guys on the back end were getting open and making big plays. It wasn’t anything schematic from them. They’re a defense that’s really stingy and tough. Just proud of our guys for making plays.”
We got them into where we wanted them with third down but we weren’t able to get off the field with those third down conversions. That right there is when you look back and see that.-Matt Nagy on his team’s defensive failures
The fumble overshadowed a much better performance from Mitch Trubisky in his second straight start. He went 26/34 for 267 yards, with a touchdown and no interceptions and upped his QB rating to 108.3. Yeah, you’d like to not have that one mistake at the end,” commented Trubisky in his post game interview. “I thought I went out there and I played efficient today. I thought our offense was efficient today. I thought we did a good job of mixing up the run with the pass and I thought we were balanced and I thought the O-line did a great job of protecting, and establishing the run game. I thought our backs ran really hard. David (Montgomery) and CP (Cordarrelle Patterson) ran their tails off. It was fun to watch and be a part of. We had one mistake at the end. Ball security, so we emphasize that and keep working the fundamentals. But that was my goal today to go out there, play efficient and try to be mistake-free, and we had one at the end that hurt us. I think we can continue to keep looking at the positive, and we keep making leaps as offense but we have to keep getting better and keep scoring more points. I think if we continue to play with that efficiency, good things will happen.”
The Bears offense has seen an uptick in efficiency, scoring on four of their first five possessions. Yet they still failed to put points on the board in the third quarter. It’s the defense that has left everyone scratching their heads. In the last two games, this unit has given up thirty-four points in two straight games (one of the Packers’ touchdowns was scored on a pluck-six). Detroit was able to throw for 402 yards with two sacks for a minuscule two yard total loss. Stafford was able to stand back in the pocket and pick out his targets with relative ease.
The final question asked in Nagy’s Sunday’s presser was about salvaging the last four games of the season. “Is this right now a difficult time? You’re damn right it is,” exclaimed Nagy. “It really is. It’s hard. It challenges you in a lot of different ways. That’s being as real as I can be. It’s hard but this is also why we’re in the positions that we’re in is to be able to let these guys see the authenticity of your belief and trust in them. I think the easy way out is for, you know, people in different positions like myself as a head coach is just to chalk it off and say, man, this just wasn’t our year. But that will never happen with me and our guys. They feed off of that and that’s all we can do. So the belief, the trust, and that we’re going to — we have to finish strong and just understand that that’s what we have left. That’s what’s being given to us and that’s what we’ve got to do.”
Trubisky was asked about the prospect of a coaching change. Mitch, always the diplomat noted, “I’m taking it one day at a time. That’s all we’re promised, and my job is to continue to make sure this thing is sticking together, make sure these leaders are sticking together and we just continue to up lift our teammates and the people in our building. We’re in a tough situation. Obviously we don’t want to be in this situation. But I don’t believe negativity or holding your head down is going to help us get out of this. So you’ve got to believe that we’re going to turn it around, I think continue to stay positive, and just continue to work hard. That’s what we’re focused on and just take it one day at a time and then that’s it”
At Monday’s post mortem, Nagy fretted over the Lions’ final drive. “They had a couple of big plays that they made on third downs to extend drives. The drive there at the end with 4:33 to go. Seven plays ninety-six yards (that) ended in a touchdown, and really only took 2:15 seconds off the clock. It was obviously really well done by them on offense. When we look back at that (it’s) where want to be able either make them to use more time, or at worse kick a field goal, but certainly be able to stop them there.”
Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune pressed Nagy about whether he was ‘astonished’ that the offense scoring thirty points wasn’t sufficient to win the game. “We’ve been fighting so hard to have a lead.,” he replied. “Our strength is to be able to get after the quarterback when they are one dimensional and we know that we can go get them. Our guys can make interceptions and make big hits, and keep them from going down the field. When our defense was playing lights out, our offense was struggling. I wish we could finish at the end, but we didn’t. We just got to get that one game where all three phases are playing together.”
Yes, I do!-Matt Nagy on whether he still has the support of management.
It doesn’t get any easier for this team. The Texans are next, led by Deshaun Watson, the quarterback that the Bears should have drafted. At the time of the 2017 draft, the former Clemson QB had a lot more visibility than Patrick Mahomes. That is followed by a trip to surging Minnesota. Even Jacksonville, who visits Soldier Field on the 27th, gave the Browns all they could handle. Lastly, the Packers make the journey down to this side of the cheddar curtain in a game that certainly has playoff seeding implications. This team will be lucky t owin even one of those games.