McKnight: Conservative Approach Burns Nagy, Bears

September 09, 2018 - 11:59 pm

(670 The Score) For one quarter in their season opener Sunday night, the Bears showcased the offense that was promised and much-anticipated. Three running backs were in the backfield. Jets were sweeping from the left and from the right. An offensive tackle split out wide.

It was fun. It was aggressive. It worked.

Then it stopped. For whatever reason, it stopped cold.

It’s possible that, staked to a big early lead, first-year coach Matt Nagy decided to read from just the first few pages of the playbook. It’s possible that second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky picked all runs for each run-pass option called into the huddle. It’s possible that, after Packers star quarterback Aaron Rodgers left with what looked like a game-ending knee injury, the Bears felt like they had just been given the contest.

They weren’t. Rodgers came back and threw for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter that gave the Packers hope. He threw another one to pull Green Bay within 20-17. And then down six in the waning minutes, Rodgers rocketed a ball straight into Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller’s arms. It should've ended the game. It didn’t.

Even after Rodgers took his second second chance down the field for a go-ahead score, the Bears could've rallied with a score. They didn’t, and the Packers held on for a 24-23 win at Lambeau Field.

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Nagy's play-calling deserves scrutiny. There was far too much conservatism in it during the second quarter, and it was uneven and scared at times.

There are questions that need answering.

Nagy didn’t follow through on his preseason promise of a consistent, aggressive offense. He showed plenty early and turtled late. Nagy's offense never dropped the hammer after the Bears defense led the way in establishing a 20-0 lead. When the Bears could've sealed the game by going for it on fourth and short late, Nagy chose to kick a field goal that kept the Packers within one score. 

As much as Trubisky still needs to prove he can make big throws, it’s on Nagy to give him the opportunity to succeed. Instead, Nagy called tunnel screen after bubble screen and didn't give Trubisky the chance to read a Packers secondary that slowly came together and made key stops late.

In his postgame press conference, Nagy said he’ll learn from this game.

He’d better, because the tape on Nagy calling plays with a lead is quite the opposite of the confident swagger that he maintained throughout the preseason.

Connor McKnight is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in middays. You can follow him on Twitter @C1McKnight.