This is one of the most important games of Matt Nagy’s coaching career.
The Bears are at a crossroads with their head coach. Nagy arrived as a highly touted offensive guru who had a history of developing quarterbacks under a fruitful coaching tree. But instead of seeing Nagy channel the best tendencies from his mentor Andy Reid, the Bears coach’s offense has been stuck in the mud for the better part of the last two years. That’s sub-optimal, but it’s not the end of the world. Because while we’ve seen the worst of Nagy in recent weeks, we could be on the precipice of seeing him at his best. Or at minimum, doing his best Reid impersonation.
Nagy fired himself from being the offensive play-caller on Friday, handing over duties to Bill Lazor. And in doing so, channeled one of Reid’s best traits.
In addition to being an all-time great play-caller, Reid is also an excellent CEO. His strength as a coach who successfully delegates responsibilities to his assistants is underrated. We’ve seen Reid hand off play-calling to Nagy, Doug Pederson, and Eric Bieniemy. It’s a sign you want to see out of a good, strong leader. For what it’s worth, Nagy sounds like the type of coach who has those qualities when he is behind a mic. And soon enough, we’ll find out if he does.
To be clear, Lazor isn’t going to show up and fix the offense’s woes. But playing with tempo, calling plays with rhyme and reason, and marrying concepts that will build upon the plays could help get things going in the right direction. For far too long, we’ve watched Nagy’s collection of plays struggle to build momentum. Now we’ll see if new eyes on old problems are the solution to what ails this offense.
“Never Tell Me The Odds”
The DraftKings SportsBook lists the Bears (5-4) as 3.5-point underdogs against the Vikings (3-5). Over/under: 43.5.
The Vikings lead 60-56-2, but the Bears have won four straight and five of eight.
Game Time, Broadcast Info, Officiating Crew:
Location: Soldier Field
Broadcast Info: Monday, November 15 at 7:15 CT on ESPN and The CW (a.k.a. Channel 26 locally in Chicago) (Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Louis Riddick, Lisa Salters), WBBM-AM 780 and WCFS-FM 105.9 (Jeff Joniak, Tom Thayer, Mark Grote), Westwood One (Kevin Harlan, Kurt Warner)
Referee: Scott Novak
Expected Starters and Lineups:
Bears Expected Starters:
• QB Nick Foles
• RB Cordarrelle Patterson
• WRs Allen Robinson II, Darnell Mooney, Anthony Miller
• TE Jimmy Graham
• LT Charles Leno Jr., LG Arlington Hambright, C Alex Bars, RG Germain Ifedi, RT Rashaad Coward
• DT Akiem Hicks, NT Bilal Nichols, DE Mario Edwards Jr.
• OLBs Khalil Mack, Robert Quinn
• ILBs Roquan Smith, Danny Trevathan
• CBs Kyle Fuller, Jaylon Johnson
• FS Eddie Jackson
• SS Tashaun Gipson Sr.
• Cairo Santos (kicker), Pat O’Donnell (punter, holder), Patrick Sales (long snapper), Cordarrelle Patterson (kick returns), Dwayne Harris (punt returns)
Vikings Expected Starters:
• QB Kirk Cousins
• RB Dalvin Cook
• FB CJ Ham
• WRs Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson
• TE Kyle Rudolph
• LT Riley Reiff, LG Dakota Dozier, C Garrett Bradbury, RG Ezra Cleveland, RT Brian O’Neill
• LDE Ifedi Odenigbo, NT Shamar Stephen, DT Jaleel Johnson, RDE Jalyn Holmes
• SLB Eric Wilson, MLB Eric Kendricks, WLB Ryan Connelly
• CBs Cameron Dantzler, Jeff Gladney
• Ss Harrison Smith, Anthony Harris
• Dan Bailey (kicker), Britton Colquitt (punter, holder), Austin Cutting (long snapper), KJ Osborn (kick and punt returns
Three Bears …
Robert Quinn has ZERO sacks in 269 snaps since picking one up on his first play as a member of the Bears. That hurts to type. Quinn has been a non-factor to this point. And while it’s still early in his contract, Chicago threw a large chunk of change at him to be a menace across from Khalil Mack. What better time than to show up on the big stage and under the lights on Monday Night Football.
Darnell Mooney has a 15.5-yard average depth of target, per Pro Football Focus’ data. In other words, Mooney is making a break for it deep and getting open behind defensive backs at a wild rate. Unfortunately, Nick Foles’ inconsistency (and the lack of time provided him by a makeshift offensive line) has left the Bears unable to capitalize on Mooney’s excellence. We’ve seen Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller have break-through performances against the Vikings in previous years. Perhaps this is Mooney’s time.
Cairo Santos has balled out this year. He has proven his doubters and naysayers wrong and has looked like the kicker he was before his groin injury threw his career for a loop. Santos’ career path to get to this point is quite a journey. Check it out: