Nothing gets done by standing in place. And even less gets done if you spend too much time looking back. So I’ve wrangled up some ideas I’d like to offer up to Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy ahead of Sunday’s game against the Saints. Because, hey, I’ve been called “an ideas guy,” once or twice before. And I sure like sharing them.
Let Cole Kmet Cook
Nagy has referenced the need for rookie tight end Cole Kmet to get more playing time in recent weeks. And yet, Demetrius Harris has out-snapped Kmet 189-147 this season. The good news is that Nagy, as the team’s head coach, holds the power to increase Kmet’s playing time. And today feels like a good time to wield that power and put it to good use.
Outside of Kmet, the Bears don’t have a tight end who can do this:
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) October 27, 2020
Cole Kmet needs more snaps.pic.twitter.com/grcFndbin8
— Bears Film Room (@BearsFilmRoom) October 28, 2020
Previously, I hinted that the best use for Kmet as he develops is to integrate him in the red zone offense. Put him on the field with Jimmy Graham and Allen Robinson, then scheme box-out and jump-ball scenarios for one of three big-bodied targets. Defenses can’t double-team all three of those guys in the red area, so deploying them deep in enemy territory is a sensible idea.
HOWEVER, it would really open things up if the Bears could make use of Kmet between the 20s. Pass-catchers such as Robinson, Anthony Miller, and Darnell Mooney figure to get a bulk of the work outside of the red zone. However, there isn’t much of a reason for Harris to have twice as many targets as Kmet at this point of the year. Using Kmet between the 20s could expand the playbook if given the right opportunities.
Ditch the Heavy Sets, Spread to Run, Incorporate Play Action
Earlier in the week, we discussed how “Head Coach” Matt Nagy and “Play-Caller” Matt Nagy are causing each other problems. One way to ease the pressure of both would be to ditch heavy set personnel packages (a.k.a. 2 TE, 3 TE sets) in favor of an increase in 3 WR sets. In this scenario, Nagy (the head coach responsible for personnel usage) would aid Nagy (the guy calling plays) immensely.
For video evidence and further explanation, check out this thread from Windy City Gridiron’s Robert Schmitz:
I used the wide angle on these runs so you can watch the boxes — note that they're consistently light, even on the poor/mistake-ridden runs I showed at the end. Lighter boxes mean more room for Montgomery to move defenders with his feet, creating yardage opportunities
— Robert Schmitz (@robertkschmitz) October 30, 2020
The #Bears currently use PA at around 16%, which falls drastically short of Sean McVay or Bill Belichick's ~40% usage and even Shannahan's ~33% usage. Sure, it mirrors Reid at ~16%, but the Bears don't have the Chiefs' personnel — more PA would help this OL
— Robert Schmitz (@robertkschmitz) October 30, 2020
According to Sharp Football’s personnel usage data, the Bears have a successful play rate of just 32 percent in 13 personnel (1 WR, 2 TE). That’s enough for me to tamper down on the usage, even if it goes against my insistence on increasing Cole Kmet’s work load. Maybe there’s a meeting in the middle. Perhaps giving Kmet more work brings out more production out of these 2 TE sets? I suppose it’s worth exploring, although I’m not sure whether “Play-Caller” Nagy or “Head Coach” Nagy will take the lead on this call.
This is more of a long-term suggestion, but it’s one that’s near and dear to my heart.
I’ve long desired for a team to hire an assistant whose sole job is to be responsible for clock/situational management. Nothing annoys me more than mismanaged time in a game with time limits. And as is often the case with assistants from the Andy Reid tree, Nagy’s clock management has been problematic.
Which of these annoyed you the most?
October 26, 2020: The most recent example of clock mismanagement had Bears Twitter in a frenzy. Nagy pocketed a timeout that would have forced a Johnny Hekker punt late in the first half of last Monday’s game. That was the moment to put on a special punt block or return play. Instead, the Bears sheepishly headed to the locker room facing a 7-point deficit.
October 18, 2020: Throwing on 3rd-and-short against the Panthers late in the fourth quarter was maddening. An incompletion stopped the clock and gave Carolina a chance to drive for a score with one timeout to use. Thank goodness for DeAndre Houston-Carson’s interception skills.
October 8, 2020: Not running down the clock against the Buccaneers, leaving Tom Brady a chance to orchestrate a game-winning drive (until he had a memory fog moment).
October 27, 2019: Chicago had this game against the Chargers won. Mitchell Trubisky nailed a 22-yard pass to Taylor Gabriel, then followed it up with a 9-yard completion to Allen Robinson. Two plays later, Trubisky runs for an 11-yard gain to set Chicago up with a 1st-and-10 from the 21. The Bears had 43 second on the clock and a timeout to spare. But rather than go for game-winning touchdown kill-shot, the Bears intentionally stalled out the drive with Trubisky kneeling before Eddy Piñeiro missed a 41-yard field goal (from a hash he didn’t prefer).
October 14, 2018: Jordan Howard gashed Miami for runs of 19 and 15 yards, setting up the Bears for an overtime kill-shot starting at Miami’s 41. Instead, Chicago followed with a 2-yard Tarik Cohen run and 4-yard rush from Benny Cunningham after pulling Howard. Cody Parkey missed a 53-yard field goal, then watched Jason Sanders nail a 47-yarder to win the game.
Maybe October is a cursed month for Nagy. I’m certainly spooked by odd occurrences this time of year. Or maybe he just needs to be better. Don’t “be you” … be better. Now that the calendar has turned to November, maybe Nagy can do just that.