It seems like the biggest focus to come out of the Bears’ 24-14 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday is the media’s obsession — and that of some fans by extension — with who was calling offensive plays.
To say that the media was orchestrating a CSI at Soldier Field and interrogating Matt Nagy at the lectern would be a gross understatement.
The sports media — particularly in Chicago and other big cities — has an entitlement mentality. They think they have a right to know whatever they want and whenever they want it. And if you don’t give them what they want … oh, boy! Watch out. They’ll kick and scream like petulant children.
Oh, they’ll try to pass it off as some desire to keep the fans informed and to hold accountable those in position of power. But that’s just all bunk. Every reporter has deep within him some insatiable desire to be the first to break a story or uncover some hidden gem. Call it the Woodward and Bernstein effect.
Head coaches have a responsibility to meet with the media. It’s part of their job. And the media takes this as a sign that they have the right to hear all the juicy details of what goes on behind closed doors inside an NFL organization. But, in fact, that is not the case at all.
Head coaches have to talk to the media, but they don’t have to reveal anything they don’t want to and aren’t required to divulge.
This takes me back to the point about play calling. What is the media’s obsession with who was calling plays on Sunday? It’s clear – for whatever reason – that Nagy did not want to flat out reveal that he gave up the play calling.
Is it a bruised ego? Perhaps. Is he disappointed that he had to call plays for Justin Fields’ first NFL start on the road against a tenacious Browns defense, while Lazor got to take a walk in the park against a lousy Lions team? Maybe.
I’m not defending Nagy’s coyness about the play calling. I don’t care one way or another. In fact, I’ll take a page out of Happy Gilmore’s book to illustrate my view on the subject.
Let’s call Nagy “gold jacket” and Lazor “green jacket”: “Gold jacket, green jacket, who gives a s—?”
The fact remains that no matter who calls the plays, it’s still Nagy’s system and he’s still orchestrating the game plan for the week, thus he’s still responsible to one degree or another for the success of the offense.
Now back to the game.
There was a lot to be excited about following Sunday’s victory, even though they still only hung 24 points on a poor defense. If they want to compete with the big boys in the league, take a look around the league at the various scores and you’ll see they’re still a ways away from where they need to be. But for Fields’ second start, it was improvement.
The Bears opened the game the same way they did two weeks ago against the Bengals: with a 75-yard drive on the opening series that ended with a touchdown. Whether it was Nagy calling plays for Andy Dalton or Lazor calling plays for Fields, the Bears did what they needed to do to march down the field and put up early points.
The Bears followed that up the next drive with yet another touchdown. The big play on that drive was a perfectly-thrown, 64-yard bomb from Fields to Darnell Mooney. Credit goes all around on that play. Not only was the throw right on the money (or Mooney?) and timed well, but Mooney ran a great route and the offensive line gave Fields plenty of time to throw.
An interception off a tipped pass two drives later spoiled an otherwise great afternoon for Fields. But the rookie led them on another impressive touchdown drive with their first possession after halftime, essentially putting the game away at that point, even though the Lions made it a little more interesting in the fourth quarter.
Fields concluded his second outing with 209 yards on 11 of 17 passing and a 82.7 rating. Take away that one unfortunate tipped interception and he would have finished with a 111.46 (or better, depending on how that drive would have concluded).
Playing with the lead certainly helps a defense, and the Bears found some success against the Lions offense. Alec Ogletree had a terrific game, leading the team in tackles, with Roquan Smith right behind him. The Bears sacked Jared Goff four times with seven quarterback hits and six tackles for loss. They were in the Lions’ backfield for a good portion of the day and stifled the Lions’ run game to just 90 yards.
The Bears will take their 2-2 record on the road next week against a tricky Raiders team to figure out. If you want some advanced scouting, you can watch them take on the Chargers tonight in what should be a very physical game between the two rivals. The Bears will get the Raiders on a short week, and even though you never want to wish for injuries, one has to think the Raiders might be limping in to that one.
Clearly, Khalil Mack will have an extra edge when he goes up against his former team. But I’d imagine the entire team should be well prepared for a better outing than the one they put forth two years ago in London. The Raiders pushed the Bears around in that one and were a much more physical team. That can’t happen this time around.
The big question – or two – all week will be which quarterback is going to start against the Raiders, and who will be calling the plays? My hunch is that it will be the same combination that we saw against the Lions.
And I couldn’t care less as long as they win.