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One thing we have learned about coach Matt Nagy over the last six months or so: If the man isn't careful he tends to wander into the intersection of obsessive and compulsive.
He did it with the Bears' search for a kicker early in the summer, and his play-calling very much had that feel on Sunday as the Bears pulled out a heart-pounding 16-14 victory over the Broncos. Paging Andy Reid! I know you have plenty to worry about with the Chiefs (although they look like they are going to kill just about everyone again this year), but we Bears fans sure would appreciate it if you would have a chat with your protégé in Chicago about maintaining an even keel.
Bringing in nine guys to take a shot at the place-kicking job and having them all take 43-yard kicks (because that was the distance of the kick Cody Parkey missed at the end of last season's crushing playoff loss) in front of reporters at the end of a training session? Troubling.
Oh and it failed. We all remember that right? The kicker is the guy the Bears traded a seventh-round pick for completely outside of the nine-man tryout fiasco. Yes the pick is conditional - on Pineiro being on the active roster for at least five games this season - but I'm thinking at this point the condition will be met.
Then we had Sunday's play-calling performance.
Responding to a game in which you called almost five times as many passing plays as running plays by calling way too many runs in the next game? More troubling. How was this guy able to find the right balance between run and pass right from the get-go last year and keep it going all season long and then completely lose it in the first two games of the next season?
I'm afraid I don't have an answer to that one.
Along these lines I would like to register a complaint. Hey NFL, please don't ever do that to us again. Please do not give us Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth calling the Bears game one week and Dick Stockton and Mark Schlereth calling it the next.
Despite being the announcing tandem that generally calls the most boring game of the weekend on Fox the last several years, Stockton and Schlereth continue to hang on to their jobs. You would think that there would be a form of relegation going on here. The announcing team that does the most boring games should be lopped off at the end of every season and other guys should get a shot.
But no, Stockton and Schlereth are still yammering away for fun and profit. Stockton mis-calls at least six plays a game and even worse, Schlereth still hasn't met a hoary old football cliché he doesn't love.
Some of the worst of it happened during the Bears' only touchdown drive. We get it Mark, you are a former offensive lineman and good running games are just about your favorite things in the world. But the successful teams in the NFL the last decade or so have almost always passed first. They have used the pass to set up the run.
But there was Schlereth urging the Bears to keep pounding away, keep running the ball and running the ball and running the ball. That worked - barely - on the Bears' lone touchdown drive. It did not work in subsequent drives in which the Bears had the chance to put things away with just a couple first downs.
The primary feature of the best play-calling schemes in the NFL is not complicated. It is balance. The best teams find the balance. In the first week, the Bears passed too much. The coach over-corrected and the next week, they ran too much. And of course plenty of this stuff depends on personnel, i.e., you need to have a good enough quarterback to throw the various passes a successful offense needs.
The Bears squeaked out of Denver with a 1-1 record. They face a desperate, 0-2 Washington team next Monday night. Hopefully the coach and his assistants can use that extra prep time on charting an effective course back to balance.
Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.
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