Who knows what the Matt Nagy family’s Thanksgiving traditions are? But you can bet that as soon as the Chicago Bears coach got home from Detroit on Thursday night, he found his way to the liquor store and poured himself a drink. Very tough.
What a fucking week, right? And the excitement may be just beginning.
After the Bears suffered a brutal home defeat to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, followed by three days of unrest centered around the safety of the coach’s job and the takeover of the locker room, the Bears players regrouped just enough to slip past the hapless Lions 16-14 on Thursday. at Ford Field.
The victory itself was far from impressive. In fact, it’s only miles away, just by earning the Bears the At Least You’re Not Lions medallion.
But at least he finished the team’s 45-day stretch without a win, recorded a five-game losing streak and gave Nagy much-needed relief as he headed out on the long weekend.
“It’s about the team,” Nagy said during a 10-minute post-match press conference. “These guys are training every single day, trying their best to fight to win.”
For those looking for value in Thursday’s late runaway, it may be a matter of the courage and mental toughness of the 44 Bear players who have contributed. Defender Andy Dalton threw 317 yards, 123 of them at up-and-coming foster Darnell Mooney. Robert Quinn provided the ball and Travis Gipson a well-timed shot for defense in the first half.
Kicker Cairo Santos finished the day off the field with a 28-yard ball as time ran out, completing an 18-game win that drained the last 8 minutes 30 seconds.
“There is definitely some relief,” Dalton said.
Deeply appreciating each other, the Bears players vowed to stick together and stick together as best they could.
“We love each other,” Santos said. “We are rooting for each other. We don’t want anyone to fail. ”
Nagy added: “There is joy in this dressing room and they are allowed to have it. They will have a big Thanksgiving because they deserve it. And they fought like hell. ”
As for his current understanding of his job status?
“I understand that it was from the day I signed a contract with the coach of this (team),” said Nagy. “I have to win as many games as I can and do it right.”
However, with his 4-7 team and going nowhere, Nagy was not about to run upside down from the chaos of his week.
During what one league source described as a tense Tuesday afternoon meeting between Nagy, general manager Ryan Pace, chairman George McCuskey, and team president and CEO Ted Phillips, Nagy said his superiors had reassured him in a Patch.com message. which indicated he was fired this week. was wrong.
“(They told me) it wasn’t true,” Nagy said. “It was a lie.”
Pace, in his usual pre-game interview with the WBBM-AM 780, said that he identified the report as incorrect when he first read it.
To be honest, Pace said, my first thought was, ‘Hey, this is an inaccurate report.’ But I think we did a good job of just focusing on what’s going on inside our building and blocking out that outside noise. ”
Outside unrest had already crept into the building on Tuesday, however, when Nagy, three coordinators and three players remained to ask questions about the viral report without a clear idea of where everything was.
Later, after Nagy canceled Tuesday afternoon meetings, the players became confused in their attempts to separate reality from rumor.
“I’m not going to lie,” said tight-end Cole Kmet, “it’s difficult. You don’t know what is true and what is not. ”
It wasn’t until Wednesday afternoon that McCuskey addressed the team, trying to bring clarity and calm.
When asked directly if he wanted his bosses to put out the fire on Tuesday much earlier and in a more direct way, in order to reduce the confusion inside the building and reduce the confusion outside, Nagy shook his head.
“I don’t want anything,” he said. “I just know I was there that day to go out and get these guys through practice, try to focus and do whatever we could do to win this game (Thursday).”
However, this statement does not explain why Nagy canceled the team’s meetings on Tuesday after the second run. Many players left the complex that evening with more questions than answers. Even Nagy admitted that the whole saga had become a much more complicated week.
“Again, this is a distraction that you need to deal with,” he said, “but if you make it too serious a distraction it could affect you. And this did not happen. … If I hadn’t done it, I would never have signed up for this job. ”
Still, describing Thursday’s victory as encouraging or encouraging would be tricky. It is possible that the Bears could not beat any of the other 30 NFL teams with their performance.
The running game never went well. Dalton scored a costly interception in the end zone in the first half. And Santos unsuccessfully scored a 53-yard field goal in the third quarter, which could give the Bears a two-count lead.
Seven minutes later, they were 14-13 behind.
But Leos are Leos. They took 14 penalties and the Bears took 10 of them for 67 yards. Included in this inappropriateness log were six hold fouls, two false starts from center Evan Brown, a 12-player foul during an extra point attempt and, yes, a 1-54 delay violation remained when coach Dan Campbell attempted to call consecutive timeouts without play.
Campbell explained that the Lions were confused and would have lost for a touchdown if he hadn’t called a second time-out. This turned third and 9 for the Bears into third and 4, which they converted with Dalton passing 7 yards to Damier Byrd. And with the Lions running out of timeouts, the Bears were able to cut the time to 1 second before letting go of Santos.
After passing Jared Goffa 39 yards to Josh Reynolds for an early 7-0 lead, the Lions averaged just 5.4 yards per try in their last 20 assists. Twice – one in each half – the Lions have taken three penalties in a row and faced the third and 32nd penalties.
In a home stadium with lots of empty seats, Campbell’s team was booed on almost every possession.
Surprisingly, the Bears still needed a last-second field goal to slip past. And since their next two games will face two of the best teams in the NFC – the Arizona Cardinals (9-2) and the Green Bay Packers (8-3) – there’s little evidence that Nagy’s team is on the brink of a meaningful renaissance.
Instead, all signs point to the need for major changes at the end of the season, if not sooner. Nagy’s seat remains hot. Pace’s future must be directly linked. Who knows what McCuskey and Phillips will decide at the end of the season?
With six games remaining, the Bears will have to find deep reserves of concentration and don’t give a damn about preventing another lingering spiral and new noise. Their clashes with chaos probably didn’t end in a year.
Thursday’s win may have given a short and welcome mental break. But Nagy knows why all the unrest began.
“When you lose five games in a row and when you have 3-7, you know what territory you can get into,” he said. “And it has to do with work. I knew this four years ago when I took this (position), and here we are.
“Each week is a little different. This one was definitely different. ”
On Thursday night, Nagy got the right to drink. What happens from here is anyone’s guess.