Offensive Gurus Adjust- Nagy Hasn't
The Bears offense has been an absolute joke in 2019. After seeing the Bears rush for a franchise-low seven rushing attempts, I was inspired to write about it. This article is to show how Nagy hasn't adjusted his running scheme to play into his personnel's strengths.
The first red flag was when Nagy attempted to move Jordan Howard before the start of the 2018 season. Jordan Howard is a pro bowl running back, and also a top-three producer in the NFL since he's come into the league. He is still on his rookie contract and was slotted to make less than 700K in 2018. His salary was pennies compared to some of the players that produced at his level. I understand he wasn't the ideal fit for Nagy's offense, but great coordinators adjust their scheme to accommodate the talent they have. The second red flag is the fact that Howard got traded to Philadelphia, a team that runs a very similar offense to the Chicago Bears. The difference between the Eagles rushing attack and the Bears is that the Eagles have zero issue lining up in a more telling formation. Last year Howard was used as a scapegoat, and now that Nagy has handpicked his backfield, there are no more excuses.
Nagy's offense has been called cute, gimmicky, and so on. He wanted to move Howard because he's not a threat in the passing game. Nagy wants all his running backs to be natural receivers. In theory, it would open up running lanes because the defense has to honor their receiving threat. It would also give him the flexibility to audible into passing plays if there was an obvious mismatch in man coverage. Having versatile backs was supposed to make the offense unpredictable, but unfortunately, it's been predictable.
When you look at the scheme itself, the latest "Baldy's Breakdown" explains it best. After watching the breakdown, you realize that all the smoke and mirrors cause this play to backfire. Defensive coordinators have been running six-man boxes all year, daring the Bears to run, and they still can't do it. It's frustrating considering the Bears history involves a long line of dominant rushing attacks. Nagy's scheme doesn't allow that, and he does not seem to be willing to adjust.
Take a look at this clip from 2017. Nobody liked the Loggins/Fox combo, but if they did one thing right, it was pounding the rock.
You will see that the offensive line is essentially the same, except for Hroniss Grasu playing center. I even fell for " the offensive line is garbage" argument, but that isn' the case. The example above is a simple stretch play. The offensive line is responsible for their zone, and every offensive lineman is moving downhill in the direction of the play. The hole develops naturally, and it gives Howard time to find his way through the hole with some speed. They are also using a full back, not just putting random tight ends in the backfield. Nagy doesn't seem willing to run a downhill rushing attack, which is why the offensive line has been struggling in the run game. His scheme works opposite to the offensive line's strengths, which shows more unwillingness to adjust.
Mitchell Trubisky has his issues, and he is a problem, but he isn't THE problem. Nagy wants to throw the ball, its evident by how quickly he evades the run. He wants Trubisky to distribute the ball around the field. Don't get me wrong, Nagy can scheme a receiver open, but he is asking Mitch to do things he is unable to do at this point in his career. Sometimes Mitch doesn't see the receiver, sometimes he sees the receiver and misses them, and sometimes he makes the play. Right now the running game is so bad that defenses don't honor it, and have no problem dropping six guys into coverage right off the bat. How does that make it any easier for Trubisky to find the open receiver? The windows and reeds are so tight you'd have to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer to succeed in this offense. How many quarterbacks have you seen successfully throw the ball 54 times in a game when the offense runs the ball seven times for 17 yards? As an offensive guru, you need to adjust and help out your struggling quarterback. Nagy said everyone needed to look in the mirror after the Oakland game, and its time he takes a look into one himself.