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Playing the Blame Game: Are the Bears’ offensive woes the fault of Matt Nagy or Mitchell Trubisky?

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Chicago Bears Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Let me lead off with this: At this point in the season, after eight straight weeks of having the same conversation, I’m as tired of talking about Matt Nagy and Mitchell Trubisky as you might be. That said, after an extraordinarily disappointing Sunday loss to a bad Chargers team, we once again have to dive into the tape to play the blame game and ask “who’s causing the problems, Matt or Mitch?”

In my latest video, I address just that question — in a span of about 33 minutes I try to accurately critique both men and both point out areas where they’ve succeeded and areas where they need to improve. It’s a lot to take in, but I think it attacks a lot of the frustrations that Bears fans have had with both men — check it out below and let me know what you think!

Also, because the video was 33 minutes long, I didn’t quite have enough time to add in a few other points I think need to be included — I wrote these in the pinned YouTube comment, but for those of you who don’t have 33 minutes to spare (I get it) I’ll list them here. Consider them as addendums to the video itself!

1) I get the impression that Matt Nagy doesn’t actually have a “plan” when it comes to running the ball. His run calls seem to have a “shotgun-style” approach in nature -- an almost random smattering of power, trickery, inside-zone, outside-zone plays that aren’t really all that cohesive. I think this is because he’s so accustomed to having a quality passing game (which I think I proved well that he’s good at scheming) that he views the run as “complimentary to the passing game” rather than “foundational to the offense”. Feel more than free to disagree with his premise, but that’s what I’m seeing in his offense.

With that in mind, this season of working around a QB that isn’t performing might be good for him in that it’ll force him to figure out how to establish his offense via running the football which I legitimately think that’s new to him. He made major progress on this front in Week 8, so I’m curious to see what he’ll do from here.

2) One of the major criticisms of Matt Nagy right now is that he’s “not adapting his offense to Mitch’s strengths” and I think that’s a bit unfair -- Matt Nagy right now calls about 3 times as many hitch, curl, and out routes when Mitch is in the game compared to the two games we saw Daniel play (admittedly low sample size). He’s also completely veered away from the 60% pass -- 40% run balance he usually “wants” to achieve (opting for more 50/50 balance) deliberately to support Mitch. He’s also, as I point out in the video, designing most of his plays around a maximum of 1 downfield read and Mitch is still struggling with those concepts.

I’ll be the first to tell you that there are things that Nagy could do to increase Mitch’s production a this year, but I don’t mind Nagy’s offense demanding that Mitch rise up to the level of “solid NFL QB” or fail. Trubisky should be making more plays than he is, he currently doesn’t get any more out of Nagy’s playcalls than the base level of QB execution otherwise would, and I think that’s a big problem for a quarterback in his 3rd NFL year. Basically, it’s reasonable to believe that Nagy is doing everything he can to help his QB out offensively while also trying to “take the training wheels off” from the 2018 offense and truly “see what Mitch has got”. Given how important it is to know what you have in a QB, I can’t fault this approach, and in the next 9 games we should both get a much better picture of who Trubisky is as a QB while also getting a great window into how Nagy adapts to what I’m sure is his personal nightmare scenario (his QB holds his offense back).

3) Remember: all NFL QBs can make great plays, good NFL QBs make great plays consistently. It’s not highlights that are Trubisky’s problem, it’s that the highlights are inconsistent (and dwindling) while the lowlights are not. That’s a huge, huge problem for Trubisky. And while many will want to “blame Nagy for not developing his QB”, some players just don’t have it at the NFL level -- based on what I’m seeing, Trubisky’s problems are more basic play-to-play quarterbacking than they are poor directional development. His post-snap processing gives us a great window into this -- because he’s actually learned to make decent pre-snap reads, you can tell he’s getting coaching that’s making him better. But you can’t really teach post-snap processing, you just have to be able to handle it on the fly, and Trubisky doesn’t look fast enough to succeed at the NFL level right now. I wish he did, but he doesn’t.

4) Yes, I really think Shaheen (a TE playing the contested-catch end zone role) should catch that ball. It’s not an “easy” play, but it’s a play tight ends like him make every Sunday. Again, it doesn’t excuse some seriously poor red zone playcalls, but it obviously would’ve helped out the offense’s bottom line.

But enough of what I think, what do YOU think?


Who do you blame more for the Bears’ offensive struggles?

This poll is closed

  • 37%
    Matt Nagy
    (252 votes)
  • 62%
    Mitchell Trubisky
    (415 votes)
667 votes total Vote Now