Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy (9.26.21)

Opening statement:

“As far as injuries go, (LB) Khalil Mack has a sprained foot. He was able to finish. Iggy (Bears LB Joel Iyiegbuniwe) has a right hamstring strain and he was not able to finish. The simple fact of the matter is that the way these games go like this, there is the anticipation of the way things go. I obviously as a head coach did not do a good enough job of getting this offense ready to go and to be able to play a football game. It starts with me. It ends with me. It’s as simple as that. I appreciate the fight from our defense. I think they fought their tails off the entire game. They kept us in it. As much as we were struggling, they kept us in it against a good football team. I also want to credit Cleveland. Coach (Kevin) Stefanski does a great job. Their coaches do a great job. There are a lot of good players on that team. That’s that part. Saying that it starts and ends with me is something that I take to heart. I know that for our guys that are in that locker room and for our coaches, that’s going to be the next challenge moving forward and getting ready to play Detroit next week. This is not how we wanted it to go. You almost can’t even make it up. It’s that bad. We’ve got to get to the film and we’ve got to make sure that we’re hard on ourselves and that we understand the why’s and really go from there.


On the impact of the last offensive drive of the first half with a false start and then ultimately giving up a touchdown:

“Offensively, we get to a third and one and we have a false start. There’s a theme there and that starts with me. I’m obviously not doing a good enough job of making sure those guys are prepared in those situations. We need to convert that. You go back to third and six, and then we don’t convert. I think in those moments, you have to take advantage of that. We weren’t able to get in a rhythm. [Cleveland] did a good job of getting first downs, but our defense did a good job of holding them. Whether it was the two fourth down stops and sacks, or just being able to do enough to keep us in it. In the end, there was no rhythm. You know that they’re going to present different looks to a rookie quarterback and do different things.  Again, I credit them for that. I think (QB) Justin (Fields) handled everything very well. I think he did a really good job of staying calm and composed with the sacks that he took. He never once got frustrated or angry. That’s tough in that situation. I’m proud of him for that.”


On whether the sacks are attributed to the Browns defense or to Fields holding the ball too long:

“I don’t know. I’m going to go back and take a look at it. I think this is one of those ones where you want to go back and get on the plane and start watching film to see the why and what that is. Really, at this point with the limited amount of yards that you have on offense, and limited amount of plays and limited amount of points, we’ve got to get to the bottom of it. We’ll look at it and see, but it starts with me.”


On saying that it starts with him and if that means the game plan or something else:

“Just everything. I think everything that goes into it. Whether it’s the scheme, whether it’s making sure guys are ready and locked in, or the execution part. When you struggle like we did today offensively, that’s what I believe. I really believe that and I think that our guys were fighting. I think they were trying hard. I think their effort was there. But in the end, there is a responsibility and accountability to make sure that you have your guys ready in this moment, in this type of game, when we have Justin coming in, and that’s what I believe.”


On what the expectations were on offense when Fields was kept in the pocket without heavy protections:

“Without getting into too much scheme, we know what we wanted to do. We knew what we were going to try to do, and they did too. They know as well. There are some parts that you have to be able to adjust if they’re going to try and take something away that they think he (Fields) does well. You have to be able to adjust, too. That’s where when we get back to it and we watch the tape, we’ll see exactly where we went wrong and why. Then ultimately again in the end, it’s my job to make sure that the “why” part gets fixed. I feel like right now, with our defense and the way they’re fighting against a good team like today, they gave us an opportunity to be in there and win the game. We just didn’t do it.”


On whether the game plan allowed for adjustments to get Fields out of the pocket:

“We know where we’re at with that. Again, there were things that they were not going to allow him to do. Without getting into scheme, there were things that were going to be a little bit more difficult. Again, you have to give credit to those edge rushers they have. They’re long. I told you this week. They’re like basketball players. They’re long and fast and strong. So getting to the edge sometimes isn’t as easy as what you think. Now, you have to be able to adjust to that, and that’s where you have to be able to do like what you guys are saying. Help out with tackles and do different things, but it’s as simple as trying to do it with the quick game as well.”


On making sure this game doesn’t damage Fields’ development:

“That’s watching the tape and seeing the “why’s”. It’s not going to damage his development because I know who he is and how he was on the sideline. Let’s see as we go through it, what the “why’s” are – whether it’s a protection, or a timing element, or whether it’s something in the run game. Whatever it is, let’s use this to try and help you get better and see where things are. He’s very coachable. He cares. I think that he’ll definitely do that.”


On where the disconnect was between the game plan and how Fields played today:

“We always go through. We go through the plays and what you feel, but you never know how the game is going to go. Whether it’s the run game, play actions, movements, whether it’s screens, drop backs, third down – where you are and how you are protecting. All of that comes into play and you have to be able to adjust to that and make adjustments. This is his first time going through that. I think for all of us, what makes it hard and difficult is the lack of production in the numbers. That makes it hard. When you have nine sacks, that’s frustrating and difficult. In the end, there is a learning process for him. What he’s going to get from us as coaches and what he’s going to get from his teammates, including the quarterbacks, is positivity to help him. Again, that starts with me. We’re going to get back to it right away and figure out the why’s and move forward.”


On whether Fields was dinged up at the end of the game:

“Yeah, I think he might have dinged his hand up a little bit. I don’t know a whole lot of the details, but yeah I think he might have dinged it up a little bit.”


On whether saying he is accountable for the mistakes prevents him from identifying and correcting errors:

“The correction part, when I look at it on the defensive side, I say there is a feel on that sideline. I know this. When you’re getting those stops on fourth down – they’re going for it and you’re getting sacks – there is a juice on the sideline. There is an energy. There’s a vibe. Then to not be able to take advantage of that is the part where you feel like, ‘okay that can’t happen.’ Then when it kept happening on offense and we weren’t getting first downs or weren’t getting touchdowns, and they kept getting stops, in the end, you get into the fourth quarter and it just really wears you down. That’s where they are built for that four-minute offense. When they get that lead like that with those running backs and that line that they have, they’re built for that four-minute. It’s hard. It’s not easy. But that defense and those guys fought really hard today, and that’s where I think as a team, I know the offensive guys care. I know they’re going to get right back to the drawing board and figure out why. I know the same thing with the coaches. With me, it’s going to start there and I’m going to make sure that this gets fixed.”


On Fields wanting to go for it on fourth down before the second field goal:

“I thought about it, but at that point the points were hard. To be able to get that back to a one score game was important. To come out of there with nothing would have been a little bit deflating. If it was probably a little bit less than that – I think it was like fourth and two, if it was a little less, it might have been different. I do like the fact that he wants to be aggressive, but we also have to be smart, too.”


On whether personnel changes on the offensive line are on the table this week:

“I’m not going to get into any of that because we have to look into it. It’s not on the table. For us, it’s just about making sure that we do this together. Those guy care and they understand what’s going on. They’re going to hold themselves accountable and they’ll see what that’s all about. For us, I’m going to be very anxious to get into that why and really see for myself where it’s at with me.”


On whether Mack had to convince the coaching staff to let him back in the game:

“I don’t know. I’ll find out more from (Bears Head Athletic Trainer) Andre (Tucker). I don’t know the details of that.”


On whether he thought Mack was good to go back in the game:

“From what I was being told, yes. I think he was good to go back in there, so that was good.”


On this game being an eye-opener to question the big picture on strategy and decisions:

“When you look at games like this with the competitor in you, it’s hard with numbers like this to where we are offensively. The competitor in you gets frustrated, but at the same point in time, I think that’s probably one of my greatest strengths is my care and want to get this thing fixed. You have to rebound back. Staying positive with the coaches and the players, when you have guys that do care, and you have guys that want to get better. They do it for each other. They don’t do it for themselves, and that’s where I’m going to come at this thing from and understand that we get to play another game next Sunday against a division opponent. When we get back to the facility, back at Halas Hall, get to the why’s and then fix it and move on.”


On whether Fields will start at quarterback next week:

“I have no idea where all that stuff is at. There is just too much stuff going on with (Bears QB) Andy (Dalton) and everything.”


# # #