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Upon further review, Matt Nagy has to know, doesn't he?
The Bears coach has to know that when he immediately defends a play-calling decision by citing the worst-case potential aftermath, he is headed down the exact wrong road? That he was clearly coaching not to lose as opposed to coaching to win?
We are referring, of course, to Nagy's immediate response to a question about why he had Mitch Trubisky take a knee with 43 seconds left in regulation and the Bears in possession of a first down on the 21 yard line.
The Bears were trailing by a point at that point in Sunday's eventual 17-16 loss to the Chargers. They had a timeout. In other words, there was plenty of time to run a couple running plays to improve their field position, especially as opposed to taking a knee and losing two yards.
Primary running back David Montgomery had already carried the ball 27 times. He had not fumbled. But that possibility was Nagy's first thought after his team entered field goal range in the closing minute. And during his post-game news conference, he immediately spoke of that concern dominating his thinking during his team's second-to-last timeout.
Of course, Nagy was probably suffering from some post-traumatic stress after his quarterback committed a pair of brutal turnovers earlier in the fourth quarter. Trubisky heaved a deep pass down the right side that turned into an easy pick that was returned to the Bears' 20-yard-line. And then he lost control of the ball without being hit for a fumble during the team's penultimate possession.
But a fan would think that if any coach has a keen awareness of how much a yard or two, heck, a foot or two, can matter during a placekick, it would be Nagy. He had even watched as his current kicker, Eddy Pineiro, clanked a 33-yard attempt off an upright and out in the first quarter.
And, of course, there was last year's playoff loss to the Eagles in which former kicker Cody Parkey clanked a 43-yarder off the upright and the crossbar before it bounced out. If that kick had just been an inch or two further to the right when it arrived at the post it would have gone through.
Sunday's last-second kick started inside the left upright before hooking away just enough to break fans' hearts. Had it been from three yards closer, it might well have gone through. If it had been from five yards closer, it would have gone through.
After the game, Nagy said with certainty that if the Bears had attempted a running play with the Chargers expecting it, his team would have "lost three or four yards."
That's not close to accurate. The Bears had spent a sizable portion of the second half on Sunday in the I formation. There is no better predictor of a running play than that set-up. And yet they piled up the rushing yards and first downs. They ended up running 35 more plays than the Chargers on the day.
The kick was missed and the game was lost. And now it appears the Bears' season is lost. They have one game remaining against a team with a losing record as of Sunday.
On the bright side - I'm having a tough time coming up with one of those, I know - the Blackhawks bounced back on Sunday for a rock-solid 5-1 victory over the Kings. Sure they only won two games during the early-season eight-game homestand that ended earlier this week and are well back in the Western Conference standings. But if there was ever a time to live in the present, it was at the United Center late Sunday.
Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.
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