Audible “Fire Nagy!” chants at Soldier Field at the end of the Bears’ 16-13 loss to the Ravens could prove to be a watershed moment for Chicago’s football team.
There is a non-zero chance that a moment that should have made every living member of ownership and the front office flush with embarrassment becomes, at last, a turning point moment for the franchise. At minimum, it’s a snapshot in time that felt like a “beginning of the end of an era” moment. Not that there wasn’t a shortage of those moments on Sunday.
Don’t want to go with the leader in the clubhouse? Cool. I love an underdog as much as the next guy. So, take your pick on the worst moment of the day.
Maybe it was the Ravens driving 72 yards in barely a minute of 4th quarter game time in what was ultimately a game-winning touchdown drive. Baltimore took the lead back from Chicago by victimizing cornerback Kindle Vildor, coaxing a defensive pass interference from the second-year corner early on the drive’s first play. The Ravens would go on to pick on the secondary, turning a busted coverage into a 3rd-and-12 conversion into a first down on a 29-yard pass.
One play later, Baltimore was reclaiming the lead. A once mighty defense was felled by Tyler Huntley, Devin Duvernay, Sammy Watkins, and Devonta Freeman.
Perhaps it was the fourth-quarter timeout usage, which bore a resemblance to that one GIF from “The Office” where the dude stumbles over his own feet, spilling a pot of chili everywhere.
I mean, heck, which timeout was your favorite?
⇒ The one that came to avoid punting on a 4th-and-1 with 12:30 left in the fourth quarter? That timeout might have been a result of a failed headset, but that doesn’t really matter. Not when the head coach should have relayed to his veteran QB that, if the deep shot failed on 3rd-and-1, he should be ready for a 4th-and-1 quick run. The Bears weren’t ready, which has been a common theme in recent years. And after the timeout, David Montgomery fell short of the first-down line to gain. Turnover on downs.
⇒ On Chicago’s next offensive possession, the offense was facing a 4th-and-6 when Nagy called timeout again. I imagine this one was to ensure that everyone was on the same page before what would’ve been the game’s most important play (to that point anyway). On the one hand, there is an argument that this wasn’t a wholly egregious timeout. But on the other hand, nothing Nagy has done in terms of timeout management should give him the benefit of the doubt. And if I had a third hand, I would underscore how the need to make sure everyone was on the same wavelength should have ben driven home earlier. No one does late-game chaos like these Bears.
(What came after the timeout was a Jason Peters false start penalty. Because nothing says Nagy era Bears football since 2020 like a penalty coming out of a timeout. What was once 4th-and-6 was now 4th-and-11. Andy Dalton’s subsequent, miraculous 49-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Goodwin provided a brief bailout, but the embarrassment was already thick. And the touchdown didn’t matter anyway.)
⇒ One more for the road? After scoring that touchdown, Nagy had to use another timeout because he wasn’t ready with a two-point conversion play. There are times when figuring out when to go for two is a tough decision. Sometimes, it even takes the entire play clock and a timeout to get into the right set. Better to be safe than sorry, right? But this shouldn’t have been one of those times. Not when the game score should’ve immediately and obviously triggered the “let’s go for two” thought. Instead, we got more timeout mismanagement and a conversion attempt that never stood a chance.
Not that the Bears could’ve used a timeout when getting the ball back with 22 seconds left down by three. Ope!
Or maybe your low moment was something else. Maybe it was just the fact that Matt Nagy’s teams are now 0-4 coming out of the bye. Maybe it was just the fact that the Bears couldn’t manage to beat a Ravens team operating at the last minute without Lamar Jackson. Again, this is a pick-your-poison scenario, but there were plenty. There always are.
There were also several smaller moments when a lack of attention to detail foiled the Bears’ best efforts. Moreover, on several occasions, it was clear that players were being asked to do too much. And the Ravens took advantage by picking on those players at will. Nothing opens eyes like a well-coached and well-built team exposing an opponent that was pieced together for one last ride (despite the writing being on the wall last year that the time had come to make changes). It was almost as if there was a Ravens game plan in place to leverage against a such an opponent.
At the end of the day, the Bears are 3-7 and riding a five-game losing streak. This comes just one season after going on a six-game tailspin that now looks like a harbinger of doom. The modest winning streak and “playoff appearance” that followed never should’ve carried the weight that it apparently did heading into the offseason. Most of us knew it then. Hopefully the people in charge know it now.
Now, the Bears are at risk of being the team that loses to a winless Lions bunch. After all, the Lions always seem ready for some action on Thanksgiving against their rivals from Chicago, and this is a banged up group. But even then, it’s hard to turn the page to that game in this moment. Because even if that game is coming in just four short days, probably led by the same staff for logistical reasons, it’s hard not to feel like we finally just saw the beginning of the end of the current Bears era.
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.