Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy has had the words “Be You” on his play sheet during his time coaching in Chicago, and I can certainly respect the motto and how much it means to him.
He said his son gave him the “just be you” advice before meeting with the Bears about their head coaching vacancy back in 2018, and he explained what it meant to him last year in a graduation commencement speech he gave at his alma mater, the University of Delaware.
“This is what it is: let your personality show, live freely, don’t worry about what others think, trust your instincts. It’s believing in yourself more than any other human being in this world. That’s what that is, that’s what being you is.”
Again, I respect the motto. I think it’s great advice and if we all lived with this mindset I think the world would be a happier place.
But at some point Nagy has to realize that he can’t truly be himself until he has the type of players that would allow him to run things his way.
There’s no shame in tweaking the motto to show some flexibility, so here’s what Nagy needs on this week’s play sheet.
BE WHO YOUR OFFENSE NEEDS YOU TO BE.
The frustrating part of Nagy’s game planning and play calling is that we’ve seen flashes of it working. He guided the Bears to a 12-4 record his first year, and while not everything he tried was a home run, there were creative moments where he schemed plays to success. He also played more to the strengths of his personnel that year with more running and more play action. And while a simplistic version of his offense isn’t something you can have sustained success with, especially once opposing defensive coordinators dug into the film, his stubborn approach to the 2.0 offense in 2019 wasn’t working either.
He gave us the self scouting lip service all offseason, and it looked like he learned some lessons early on, but these last few weeks the offense hasn’t broken like they all hoped.
Injuries along the offensive line has exposed the thin depth they have, so Nagy needs to scrap trying to make 2 and 3 tight end sets a thing and spread defenses out with extra receivers.
This will help get some easier angles for your blockers. This will also spread things out for the run pass options that Nick Foles has had success with in his career. He’s smart enough to key on the defender, read his flow, then either hand off or pull back for a quick pass.
These Bears aren’t built to line up and knock teams around with a ‘three yards and a cloud of dust’ offense, but ultimately does it really matter if they run the ball while chipping away at a defense, or if they let Foles work the slant/arrow concepts or zero routes/bubble game of the short passing game.
Here here are some keys for the Bears winning against the Saints from a few of my colleagues.
Offense: Simplify the personnel. At this point, Nagy uses so many “specialists” (Patterson is their outside-running threat, Wims is a blocking specialist, Miller is a slot-pass specialist, etc.) that his offense is chock-full of “keys” that make play-calls pretty transparent. That’s not always a problem, some offenses have the personnel to be transparent and still succeed, but the Bears do not. Pick your best 11-13 guys and go from there. Also use more play action to create clean pockets, but that’s a different story.
Defense: Redeem yourself. No, last week’s performance wasn’t technically “bad”, but on a Bears team that needs its defense to lead from the front the defense has different expectations than the offense. The offense needs to score, but if the Bears are going to respond they’ll need a 2019 Week 3 Vikings or 2018 Vikings/Rams showing against this Saints team.
Special Teams: Catch at least one punt this week.
The Saints have given up a touchdown to a tight end every game this season. So as long as the Bears cash in on that trend with a one-handed Graham grab and hold the Saints to 6 or less, they’ll have a spirit bear’s chance on the astral plane of winning the day.
Erik Christopher Duerrwaechter
Offense: Get Matt Nagy out of his own head. The play-calling stunk at Los Angeles on Monday night, and what was once a promising run game to start the year has gone dormant. It’s time for him to reset his own expectations, realize who his O-Linemen and QB are, and plan accordingly. New Orleans’ defense isn’t as terrifying as what we saw last year.
Defense: Stop getting penalized so damn much. Granted, some of those penalties were bogus calls from the refs. At the same time, simply play with better technique all across the squad. This unit can and will shut down the Saints if they play disciplined football.
Special Teams: Insert someone at punt returner who actually wants to return punts. Get Ted Ginn Jr. out of there.
Offense: As always, limit turnovers and stay out of third-and-long situations.
Defense: Just keep doing what you are doing.
Offense: Connect on deep shots. The Bears offense is hamstrung by their inability to connect on any sort of deep pass, as evidenced by the stat Monday night when they completed their first pass of 40+ yards all season. Once you connect on a few deep passes, the defense will stop sending the house. You’re going to have to hang 30 points on this Saints team to have a shot (both of the Saints losses were when they surrendered 30+) and if the idea of this offense scoring 30 points makes you laugh, then hope lies in the defense.
Hope the Saints bring their B or C-game because the Bears can’t block and have a play-caller that thinks he has the 90s Cowboys offensive line.
Offense: Protect. The. Quarterback. It’d be nice to get better play from the Offensive Line, but that probably isn’t happening with this group. In fact, with Whitehair out, it’s probably going to be worse. That said, you can protect your quarterback in other ways. Focus on the short passing game. Make sure you ALWAYS have a dump off route that is unlikely to be covered. Use play-action to keep the defense from getting a good first step. Get Cole Kmet more involved, he can block better than Graham and catch better than Harris. Very useful for an offense who struggles in protecting the QB, and would like to be less predictable. Double team Hendrickson when possible. Guy has 14 QB pressures, and at this point, is their main threat on that line. Use David Montgomery in short yardage, not Patterson! Call. Proper. Plays. With. Proper. Personnel.
Defense: Don’t give the Refs an excuse to throw a flag. Figure out what they are calling early, and adjust. Yes, there have been a lot of BS calls, but just complaining isn’t going to help you on the field (though, I’d like to see Matt Nagy get on the refs more, as that can have an impact). You need to adjust. Figure out some way of containing Alvin Kamara. If that means bringing Roquan Smith on more inside blitzes, or hanging some curtains to to maintain the perimeter, then do it. Pressure Drew Brees. If you can’t get to him, get your hands up. I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but he’s not a tall guy. Good chance you can get a piece of that ball.
Special Teams: Call up Dwayne Harris to return punts, and permanently ban Ted Ginn from ever even SAYING the words “Punt Return” again. Everyone else, keep doing what you’re doing. Special teams have been solid outside of punt returns.
Offense: Don’t f*** it up. Stay out of your own way.
Defense: Hold them to 3 or fewer points.
What are some of your keys to the game this week?
I was a guest on the Braggs In The Stands show earlier this week, and you can peep out the segment right here about the 13:30 mark.