Back in August, Head Coach Matt Nagy used some interesting phrasing to describe how his team was dealing with hard coaching during the dog days of practices before the season.
“When you have high-character people, they can handle that,” Nagy said, via Chris Emma of 670 The Score. “If you have a bunch of bad people or turds, they don’t. We don’t have turds on this team.”
I remember listening to that press conference and jotting that nugget down thinking I might need it for future reference. Not that I’m Nostradamus or anything … it’s just that the Bears didn’t have any moments where turds could arise in 2018 because things went so overwhelmingly well for the squad. Even after a 3-3 start where things could have come unglued, the Bears stuck together as they stacked wins and grew as a team.
Nearly three months later, things aren’t so peachy in Chicago. And while some it fallen short of sniffing out a turd, one ex-Bear called out some clown-ish behavior from a few Bears.
Check out wha Alex Brown had to say on NBC Sports Chicago’s Football Aftershow:
"There's some clowns on this team, man… anything that goes good, they wanna say 'oh I did it. It's me.'" @AlexBrown96 and the #FootballAftershow crew are just getting started on @NBCSChicago. Stream: https://t.co/gDrkw9Q5hl pic.twitter.com/wGzCtjvh4e
— Bears Talk (@NBCSBears) November 18, 2019
Those words from Alex Brown carry weight. So much so, they are worth typing again in order to really let it sink in:
“There are some clowns on this team. There are some clowns, and I don’t like it. Clowns. Anything that goes good, they want to say, ‘Oh, I did it. It’s me. It’s me. I want the camera on me.’ You score a touchdown, get back. Yes, I want you to be excited. Be excited with your team. Don’t get a first down and you’re throwing up – I don’t even know what signs it was, but you’re throwing up signs with your fingers. Get back to the huddle. Let’s play football, because we’re not a good team right now.”
Brown is making reference to a few different plays. One came when Cordarrelle Patterson was called for a penalty for removing his helmet while on the field of play to talk some trash. The other was on this series of events featuring Anthony Miller, of which there is some damning video.
Check it out:
After @AnthonyMiller_3 drop turns into a pick, he turns around and starts jawing at somebody.
Attitude is a problem, like I’ve said multiple times.
Shut up and make plays, kid. pic.twitter.com/hO6rDd5apA
— Ryan Heckman (@RyanHeckmanFS) November 18, 2019
And some more commentary from former Bears:
He dropped the ball. They intercepted it. Then he talked trash. I am so confused. #BearsvsRams
— Earl B. Bennett (@EarlBBennett) November 18, 2019
Anthony Miller is a talented receiver, to be sure. There is plenty of untapped potential and skills that haven’t been unleashed by the Memphis walk-on who turned into a self-made All-American as he climbed the ladder as a college player.
But his actions after committing offensive pass interference and dropping a pass that led to an interception were a bad look. Full stop. And that it doesn’t stop with Miller is something the Bears need to clean up immediately.
Nagy pushed all the right buttons last year en route to winning the NFL’s Coach of the Year award. He did his part in keeping the team focused, even after tough losses that would have otherwise derailed the season. But the follow-up to that award-winning season is going to be more difficult than his original performance, because winning isn’t serving as a deodorant for what is ailing this team. So while last year was the year in which Nagy broke onto the scene and showed his coaching prowess, how he manages this moment feels like it could go a long way toward telling us what kind of coach he really is in the long haul.