Jason Lieser at the Chicago Sun-Times takes a look at the biggest questions during what would normally be OTAs:
Will Matt Nagy’s play calling change?
Yes. Nagy is too smart and resourceful to stay the same. He will reinvent not only the offense, but himself. That starts with a fierce commitment to the ground game. Nagy set a franchise record low with seven rushing attempts in a blowout loss to the Saints. The Bears had fewer than 25 run plays in nine of their games. They were third-worst at 3.7 yards per carry. Nagy knows it’s imperative to change that.
Knowing and doing are not the same thing.
I think Nagy is getting a pass from the media after he made a lot of mistakes last year. To his credit, he’s correcting some of those. But to my mind, Nagy did a pretty lousy job of adjusting to his personnel. And I’m wondering if that lack of adaptability is correctable.
For instance, to my eye, Nagy normally runs an offense that requires a tight end, ideally two, to run properly. The TE sets up mismatches as someone, either the tight end of the running back (Tarik Cohen) ends up matched up on a linebacker. Without anyone at the tight end position last year, the offense stalled. Nagy couldn’t get the match ups he wanted anymore and he either couldn’t or wouldn’t change things to make them operate properly.
What could he have changed? It’s the coach’s job to know that not me. But there are no excuses and I know there are coaches around the league that regularly work around adversity when it occurs due to either roster deficiencies or injuries. Nagy couldn’t.
And then, as Lieser points out, there’s the running game. When this became problematic, Nagy couldn’t adjust to make it work. Instead of taking this in hand himself, Nagy reportedly left it in the hands of offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich and offensive line coach Harry Hiestand. When the running game still didn’t work, these two took the fall at the end of the year. This all whitewashes the basic fact that Nagy, himself, didn’t know what to do about to correct the issue.
Recent comments by former Bears center Olin Kreutz are to the point. Kreutz pointed out at least twice on a recent podcast that the Bears had their best success running out of the I-formation. Instead of adjusting and making it a major part of the offense, for three games in a row Nagy didn’t go to it until he absolutely had to in the third quarter.
The guess here is that this didn’t fit in with Nagy’s idea of what “his” offense was supposed to look like. In Nagy’s mind the offense wasn’t built that way and he either wouldn’t or couldn’t adjust it to make it work.
Kreutz is quoted here by Adam Jahns at The Athletic:
Part of me wonders if coach Nagy knows what … the run scheme in his offense really is. Or does he always have to count on somebody else to put a run scheme in his offense? You know what I’m saying?
I know exactly what he’s saying.