When asked about how he would handle the Chicago Bears’ Week 17 game against the Minnesota Vikings, Head Coach Matt Nagy expressed a desire to play to win the game. Full stop. At every turn, Nagy told anyone who would listen that his healthy regulars would start and play for as long as it was worthwhile. And as it turns out, that’s exactly what happened.
Nagy did the right thing by not letting up and allowing his team to finish off the Vikings. For starters, beating a divisional rival on the road and eliminating them from postseason play in the process just feels good.
Contrary to a popular belief among some Bears fans who still aren’t over the team not putting away the 2010 Packers in a similar situation, Nagy pulling the curtains on the Vikings season has nothing to do with re-visiting what happened back then. Instead, it had everything to do with what the 2018 Bears are all about.
The Bears asserted themselves early with a punch-you-in-the-face defense and smash-mouth running game, then didn’t let up. So much so, Nagy had to be informed by FOX Sports sideline reporter Erin Andrews of what was transpiring in the Rams-49ers game that had implications on playoff seeding. That’s how focused Nagy was on the game in front of him and it showed how committed he was to going through with his game plan. Not that it should have come as a surprise because Nagy has talked about how thinking about things that are out of your control while in a game is a recipe for disaster.
And that Vic Fangio’s defense closed it out with the reserves was icing on the cake. The Bears’ second-string defense forced a turnover on downs with Kevin Toliver II in coverage and Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks on the sideline.
Perhaps Nagy staying the course comes as a surprise to some because Bears fans and observers have been trained to expect cautious and conservative actions from the coach. Perhaps it’s time to re-calibrate our way of thinking. Because from a football perspective, playing to win – no matter the circumstance – is the stuff fans say they want out of a coach. And they got it! Everyone should be happy, right?
It probably would have sent the wrong message to put out a dominant first-half effort only to call off the dogs in the second half. Nagy has talked about finishing as a point of emphasis all year, so to not finish this game out would have been disingenuous and out of character. In short, it would have gone against everything the guy who has “BE YOU” on his play card stands for.
Wow! A head coach who is honest, forthcoming, and goes through with the things he says he sets out to do. What a concept!