Dietz: After 26-6 loss to Browns, Bears coach Nagy must stop calling plays

  • Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy looks on during the second half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Cleveland.

    Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy looks on during the second half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Cleveland. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 9/26/2021 5:03 PM

"I'm sorry."

Those should have been the first words out of coach Matt Nagy's mouth as he addressed the Bears after a 26-6 loss at Cleveland on Sunday.

 

Nagy's next admission: "My play-calling was atrocious. I am handing those to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor for the rest of the season."

Look, when a rookie QB is making his first NFL start on the road against an AFC powerhouse, there's one rule to follow: Keep things simple.

This goes double for when your offensive line is as tenuous as a house of cards.

Whenever possible, run the ball and keep the chains moving. Yes, it's tempting to get cute on second-and-short.

Resist the urge. Don't do it.

But Nagy can't help himself.

The pivotal moment came late in the first half after Justin Fields completed a 9-yard pass to Allen Robinson to set up a second-and-1 from the Bears 43.

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It's 3-3 at this point. The clock is ticking under 4:00. You're in the game.

Run. The. Ball.

But, no. Fields drops back and misses Darnell Mooney by a mile.

For most teams, a third-and-1 is no problem. But the Bears are not most teams.

On the next play, Germain Ifedi commits a false start.

So what should have been an easy second-and-1 pickup becomes third-and-6. And, of course, Fields gets sacked.

After a punt, the Browns produce a 12-play, 89-yard drive that gives them a 10-3 lead.

Think about the ramifications of that second-and-1 play call. If Nagy calls a run -- and assuming the Bears pick up the first down -- the worst-case scenario is three more plays to drain more clock.

Best case? Maybe the offense gets some confidence, Fields and Montgomery get into a rhythm and they go down for a score.

These little moments matter every week, yet Nagy fails at them game after game after game.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

And here's the shame of it: The defense played outstanding again.

Sure, Kareem Hunt piled up 155 yards from scrimmage and Nick Chubb ran for 84 yards on 22 carries.

But most of that damage came in the second half.

In the first 30 minutes we saw superb play by Robert Quinn and Angelo Blackson (split sack to squelch Cleveland's first series), Duke Shelley (impressive open-field tackle), Khalil Mack (sack to end second drive) and Mario Edwards Jr. (sack to end third drive). Chubb managed a measly 30 yards on his first 10 carries as the D-line did a great job of clogging the lanes.

As for Fields, he finished 6-for-20 for 68 yards. He was also sacked nine times, meaning the Bears had 1 net passing yard.

That's no typo. One yard.

Somehow Fields also only ran three times for 12 yards. Where were the designed rollouts? The run-pass options where he keeps the ball? Maybe a QB draw or two?

Nagy's negligence is simply mind-boggling.

Big picture, I'll repeat my sentiments after the Bears' Week 1 collapse: This team is where we expected them to be at this point -- 1-2. They should beat the Lions next week, although Detroit nearly upset the Ravens on Sunday.

So 2-2 with a not-too-daunting schedule after that means this can still be a successful season.

But it will be much more successful if Nagy hands off the play-calling duties off to Lazor.

Just like he should have had Fields hand off to Montgomery ...

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