Bears coach Matt Nagy (right, with quarterback Justin Fields) said play calling is a team game. ‘Whatever happens, it goes through me. We’ve done it together.” | Nam Y. Huh/AP
The Bears’ head coach gave up play-calling to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor — and the offense responded in a 24-14 victory over the Lions. “I felt good out there as a head coach,” Nagy said.
There was no update on Akiem Hicks’ groin or David Montgomery’s knee after the Bears’ 24-14 victory over the Lions at Soldier Field, but Matt Nagy’s bruised ego should recover in time for next week’s game against the Raiders.
How difficult it must be for the Bears’ head coach to relinquish play-calling duties in his fourth season, and for the second time in the last two. Getting Nagy to address the issue directly the last seven days has been like a trip to the dentist’s office — for him and for us.
It was pretty clear from the Bears’ first two offensive plays against the Lions on Sunday that Nagy had ceded play calling responsibilities to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. The Bears used three tight ends on their first play from scrimmage — a clean nine-yard run up the middle by David Montgomery. And on the second play, Montgomery ran right behind tight end/blocking back J.P. Holtz for a four-yard gain and a first down. And the Bears’ offense was off and running.
But after the game, the subject was as painful as ever.
“Did you delegate play calling?” Nagy was asked.
“That goes back to what we talked about internally through the whole week — whatever I can do,” Nagy said. “Ultimately it goes through me. Everything we do, regardless of everything else — who’s calling this; who’s calling that — it goes through me.
“I thought our coaches did a great job today. I thought our coaches executed. Again, with all due respect — I understand the questions, but that’s what it is and that’s what it’s gonna be the rest of the year, is just knowing that whatever happens, it goes through me. And we’ve done it together.”
Nagy’s reticence to address the play calling subject is a little mystifying. Unlike the quarterback decision, there’s little to no value in being secretive about who your play caller is. As Nagy is finding out, it’s detrimental in the big picture — the exact distraction he’s trying to avoid.
Simply, it must just be a huge blow to his pride. He came here as a 21st-century offensive guru and prized protege of Andy Reid — a year after Sean McVay worked wonders for the Rams. To give up play calling must be torture. Even when relenting after being pressed on identifying the play caller in Sunday’s game, Nagy was indirect.
“In regards to the play calling, Bill did a great job,” Nagy said in his first acknowledgement that Lazor called the plays. “At the same time, it’s important that we understand that I felt good out there as a head coach. That’s real, you know?
“But we all get together — and we do that when I’m calling plays, too. I think that’s important for everybody to know. When we build a game plan … we do it together. Then in the end, I have a great opportunity to say, ‘Yes, I like this.’ Or, ‘No, I don’t’ as head coach, right? [I’m] in charge of all that.
“Whatever I need to do to try to be the best head coach for the Chicago Bears — whatever that is, I don’t care. I just want us to have the best opportunity to win.”
Actually, it sound like Nagy is having a tough time coming to that reality. When he gave up play calling to Lazor last year, he was much more direct and clear. Now, it’s a sore subject.
“I feel like Bill did a great job today,” Nagy said. “Our players did a great job. Our coaching staff did a great job. Everybody. And when you have that, it’s a good feeling. So we’ll continue to just keep talking. But with all due respect, it’s going to be the last time I talk about [the play-caller].”