Bears vs. Chiefs: With The Pressure Off Will The Offense Shine?
The Chicago Bears hired Matt Nagy as their head coach to bring some of Andy Reid’s Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive philosophies, and hopefully firepower, to the Windy City, but through nearly two years on the job Nagy’s offenses haven’t lived up to the hype. There were a few flashes a year ago when the Bears ended the season with the 20th ranked offense according to Football Outsider’s DVOA, but this year they’ve taken a step back and have failed to build off those flashes.
And it seems like flashes is the key word for what’s happening for Nagy’s O, or more particular quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, because we’ve seen him flash the occasional brilliant play from time to time this year as well. The problem is that he and Nagy haven’t been able to get in sync this season for any sustained success.
Since Nagy, who was Reid’s offensive coordinator, left the Chiefs after the 2017 season, K.C.’s offense hasn’t missed a beat, while Nagy hasn’t been able to get his offense into a rhythm.
According to ESPN, the Bears are dead last in explosive plays (runs over fifteen yards and passes over twenty yards) in 2019, and that’s not going to cut it in today’s NFL. Hell, that isn’t going to cut it in any era. The Bears have a shifty enough running back in David Montgomery, a do-it-all running back in Tarik Cohen, and wide receivers Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller who have combined for 63 receptions, 836 yards, and 6 touchdowns in Chicago’s last five games, so the lack of explosiveness has to turn around at some point. Doesn’t it?
There are plenty of reasons for the offensive regression this year, most of which I’ve already discussed ad nauseam, but there are only two games left to try and get out of their season-long funk. The Bears may be eliminated from the playoff race, but this team still has plenty to play for, so instead of rehashing the bad from the first fourteen games of the season, I’ll look forward to something positive that could happen this week.
With the Chiefs coming to Chicago for Sunday Night Football, we’re sure to have the Nagy vs. Reid narrative, but this game will also shine a critical light on Trubisky considering his 2017 draft classmate, Patrick Mahomes, is quarterbacking the Chiefs. While it’s possible Mitch could tighten up from the pressure of playing opposite last year’s MVP, I think he’ll come out loose since the Bears have nothing to lose.
The Chiefs’ defense has played better of late, but if there’s one thing they’ve struggled with all year it’s stopping the run. They allow over 130 yards a game on the ground, which is 26th, and they’ve allowed 5 yards per carry this year, which ranks 30th in the NFL. Chicago’s offense functions better when they can get a little something going in the run game, and if their line can open some creases for Montgomery and Cohen, everything opens up for Trubisky. Nagy will run more play action, he’ll move the pocket more, and he may even call more designed runs for his QB, which also helps Trubisky get into a groove.
All that won’t come to fruition if Nagy’s play calling and game plan doesn’t resemble what he did during the Bears recent three-game winning streak when he was able to get Trubisky on the move. That’s something the QB remarked on this week, so I would expect the two to come to an understanding this Sunday.
Trubisky didn’t have the best game last week against the Packers, but in the previous two games he completed over 75% of his passes for 582 yards, 6 TDs to 2 picks for a 116.9 passer rating. Against Green Bay he went for 334 passing yards, but the inconsistency showed up on the frozen tundra of Lambeau field as he only completed 55% of his passes. But among his 29 completions there were a few lasers and off schedule throws that made Bears’ fans gasp in appreciation. The flash plays are nice, but at this point the Bears just need to see some consistency in his pre and post snap reads and his execution.
If Nagy doesn’t get caught up in the hype that will surround this game, the Bears offense should be able to move the ball, and for all the talk about Trubisky getting out of his own head and just playing football, he’ll now have an opportunity to do just that on Sunday Night Football.
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