Chicago Bears final game encapsulates the failure during Matt Nagy era

Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images
Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images /

The Chicago Bears lost their final game of the 2021 season to the Minnesota Vikings. The game was a perfect picture that captured the failure of the Matt Nagy era.

The Chicago Bears played their final game of the 2021 season. They fell to the Minnesota Vikings 31-17 in a game that followed a familiar pattern throughout the Matt Nagy era.

The Bears controlled most of the game. At one point, they were up 14-0. They had a 210-22 advantage in yards on offense. Then, on the Vikings’ final drive of the first half, they woke up and took over. They outscored the Bears 31-3  and amassed 309 yards from that moment and just dominated Chicago.

This game encapsulated the failure of the Chicago Bears under head coach Matt Nagy. The offense struggled to score, especially in the red zone. Coming into the game, the Bears ranked just 30th in red-zone touchdowns. The Bears had the ball twice inside the Vikings’ five but failed to score anything.

In this game, they technically only made it to the red zone twice, but they spent a lot of time on Minnesota’s side of the field. They had five drives that reached between Minnesota’s 21 and 35 and came away with three field goals and a touchdown.

Settling for field goals is not a good recipe for success. While Cairo Santos kept hitting field goals, the Vikings were finding the end zone.

This was a typical Nagy game.

Also typical in a Nagy-coached game involves struggling in run/pass balance. Andy Dalton, who started because Justin Fields was in COVID protocol. He finished the game 33-for-48 for 325 yards and 2 touchdowns. Add in the seven sacks and the Bears dropped back to attempt 55 pass plays. They ran the ball only 25 times for 90 yards.

David Montgomery, one of the biggest assets on the Chicago Bears offense, was an afterthought in the game. He ran the ball 20 times for 72 yards. The real problem was how Nagy hid Montgomery in key situations.

The Bears had three fourth-and-one situations in the game. Two of them were near the end zone. Montgomery was not involved in any of those plays. In fact, he wasn’t even on the field for two of them. The Bears attempted a pass on each of those situations. Not surprisingly, they failed to convert on any of them.

Dalton expressed frustration with the failure to convert on fourth down.

"It was frustrating. Fourth downs are important plays and they were the difference in this game today. It’s unfortunate we weren’t able to convert and make the plays when we needed to. The guys are disappointed with the outcome today, and we should have been. We did a lot of good things and we just weren’t able to get it done in the end."

Montgomery is one of the most difficult running backs to tackle. In his first two seasons, he ranked in the top five in broken tackles. This season, coming into the game he ranked 12th despite missing four games due to a sprained knee.

Instead of using a bruising back like Montgomery to get a yard, Nagy depended on Dalton’s arm and failed each time. Again, we’ve seen this kind of playcalling throughout Nagy’s tenure as Chicago Bears head coach.

Once the Vikings started to gain some momentum, Dalton added fuel to their fire. He threw interceptions on two consecutive drives. The first one was returned for a pick-six that basically sealed the game for Minnesota.

On the bright side, Darnell Mooney had himself a game. It appeared that Dalton was just playing catch with Mooney and there was no other receiver playing. Dalton targeted Mooney 16 times. Mooney caught 12 of them for 126 yards. That gave him 1,055 yards for the season. It was the third consecutive season a Bears receiver eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards. Allen Robinson did it the last two seasons.

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What we saw in this game was everything that went wrong in the Matt Nagy era. The offense struggled to score and there was no balance. They allowed the Vikings to hang around until they got things together and then they couldn’t stop the bleeding when Minnesota got in a rhythm. As a result, we’ll likely see Nagy be a part of Black Monday.