Joniak: Nagy Preaching Togetherness In Losing Streak

October 23, 2018 - 4:53 pm
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By Jeff Joniak--

(WBBM Newsradio) The Bears (3-3) were back at work Tuesday preparing for a contest against the Jets (3-4) on Sunday. Here are the notes and observations of the day.

First impression

There's so much to unpack in the first six games of Bears coach Matt Nagy's tenure. He still has so much to learn. There's so much for everyone to understand about his philosophy, style and substance.

At the same time, his team is also unpacking a large volume of plays, concepts and techniques, and trust is being created on both sides as the dynamic is evolving. It's that trust that's important as the Bears are on a two-game losing streak.

"I’ve explained to the team that it is a very long season and that we got a ways to go and now we’re getting challenged here," Nagy said on the WBBM Coaches Show on Monday night. "So, how are we going to react? Are we going to stick together or are we going to pull apart? I think I have a pretty good idea because of who we are and the way we work that we’ll stick together. We’ll become tighter because of this, and we’ll grow stronger and give our best effort next week."

Second thought

Nagy has experienced a lot of peaks and valleys as an NFL assistant, including an eight-game losing streak in Philadelphia. In Nagy's first four years with Andy Reid, the Eagles had winning records right around or after Thanksgiving when some coaches believe the season really starts. 

6-1 after Nov. 22 in 2008

4-2 after Nov. 23 in 2009

4-3 after Nov. 21 in 2010

5-2 after Nov. 20 in 2011

With Reid in Kansas City, Nagy experienced winning streaks of nine, five, 10, five and four games over the course of five seasons. But they also encountered losing ruts of 1-5 and 1-6 in other stretches. In their final three years together in Kansas City, Reid and Nagy once again had winning records right around or after Thanksgiving. 

7-0 after Nov. 22 in 2015 (The Chiefs won 10 straight after starting 1-5.)

5-2 after Nov.20 in 2016

4-2 after Nov. 26 in 2017

The 2017 Chiefs had an especially wild season, starting 5-0, going on the 1-6 skid and then finishing 4-0. Nagy preaches persistence over resistance. 

Third degree

After each of the Bears' three losses, Nagy has brought up "staying together" as a team. So I asked him what would ever lead him to believe this team wouldn't stay together.

"It’s really hard to go undefeated," Nagy said. "When things don’t go great, how do you react to it? Is it the offenses fault, is it the defenses fault, is it the special teams?

"When you’re a team that just accepts responsibility and looks in the mirror and starts with yourself, you bring it on and you understand why it happened and why you lost. And vice-versa when you win, you don’t think it’s all you. You understand it is your teammates.  You ride that thing through the 16 games that you play together. Hopefully, then you make the playoffs and now you use all those experiences from those 16 games, all of those different challenges you had good and bad to help you in the playoffs."

Nagy’s radar is always up. He knows losing streaks get long and monotonous, as players start to feel like they're hearing the same message. 

"We’ve lost two in a row," Nagy said. "It’s really not the end of the world. We’ve played six games, we’ve lost two in a row. We’ve also won three in a row. When we were winning three in a row, it’s the same thing to stay even-keeled and not thinking we’re too good. I feel like we’re built for these type of situations. We understand how to handle adversity. At least I think we do."

Fourth-and-short

Bears receiver Kevin White changed his approach and mindset two weeks ago about his role with the team.  

"He’s become selfless in the last couple weeks and realized whether it’s taking scout team reps in practice or whether it’s making an extra block in the game to spring somebody open, that he’s being patient right now," Nagy said. "I love that about Kevin. He’s a great person with a lot of talent. We’re just trying to figure out with everybody else that we have how we can put it together that helps both of us."

Nagy added he doesn't know when White’s time is coming, but he appreciates how hard he's working every day and how much respect White has for his teammates.

Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.