The Chicago Bears are 1-5 against the Green Bay Packers since Matt Nagy took over as head coach in 2018. Most recently, the Packers handed them a 35-16 loss in a Week 17 game that was a win-and-in-the-playoffs scenario for the Bears, who failed yet again to topple their rivals, although they managed to sneak into the postseason anyway.
One of the key plays in the Bears’ most recent loss to the Packers was a 72-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Marquez Valdes-Scantling in the second quarter. Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan was the only Chicago player near the Packers wideout on the play, an obvious mismatch, and Rodgers took advantage.
After the game, the future Hall of Fame quarterback broke down the play, revealing his thought process and what he saw from the Bears defense that led to the touchdown.
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Aaron Rodgers & Matt LaFleur Saw Confusion Amongst Bears Defenders
When making his weekly appearance on the Pat McAfee Show, Rodgers revealed what he saw when he was under center before the ball was snapped:
Robert Quinn was having a conversation with Trevathan during that play, and they couldn’t decide what side he was supposed to be on. So I could tell that there was something that was a little messed up on defense. … I really wanted them to declare what they were doing, because I knew there was some sort of pressure coming, and I was trying to get the protection right. … I tried to quick snap on them because it looked like there was confusion on who had three vertical to the other side. And three vertical for us is Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who’s one of the faster players in the league. And at the snap I could tell that he was gonna have a backer drifting out [to cover him].
The linebacker — Trevathan — did indeed drift out into coverage, which isn’t an ideal scenario when he’s supposed to cover, as Rodgers noted, a speedy wideout. Here’s the play:
“[Rodgers] saw the matchup,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said about the play, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “He saw the confusion going on. I think those are the things that not everybody understands about a guy like Aaron, just what he’s capable of doing.”
The confusion Rodgers and LaFleur noted was also obvious to fans and analysts, as well as to former Bears players. “Guys one-on-one with the linebacker and we’re all wondering, what the hell defense is that?” former Bears All-Pro center Olin Kreutz said about the play on NBC Sports’ The Football Aftershow. “You’re wondering what the hell’s going on a few more times than you’d like while watching these games. What coverage are they in? You see them looking at each other.”
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Matt Nagy: ‘There Wasn’t Any Confusion’ on the Play
When asked Monday specifically about the confusion on that play, head coach Matt Nagy revealed a disconnect that is more than a tad unsettling. Here’s what the Bears coach said when asked where the confusion on the 72-yard touchdown came from:
There wasn’t any confusion. I know 94 (Robert Quinn) was running around. That was by their formation and what they did. But that didn’t affect the play at all. They ended up, we had a blitz there and we just got home a little bit late on the blitz to hit Aaron. And then we had — Danny was isolated one on one right there on Scantling. Again, Aaron Rodgers has seen a lot of defenses, you know. You try to heat him up, there’s gonna be some times where you’re gonna have one-on-ones. And we talked about some defenders. That was one there where we look back and you’d love to not give up. That was unfortunate. Aaron made a good throw. The kid ran away from him and made a good play.
There are several things wrong with Nagy’s assessment of the play. For starters, the confusion before, during and after the touchdown to Valdes-Scantling was obvious — just acknowledge it and move on. Confusion happens sometimes during football games, particularly when playing against the league’s best quarterbacks. Nagy’s refusal to admit and acknowledge reality is both unnecessary and damning, and his inability to articulate what is actually happening on the field is becoming a pattern.
Another issue with Nagy’s response is this: He said the team’s plan on the play was to have Trevathan — an aging veteran who has been burned in coverage all year — “isolated one on one right there on Scantling.”
Mismatches don’t get much more obvious than that — and the fact that Nagy cannot call the play what it was, or, at the very least admit that having a 30-year-old linebacker assigned to a 26-year-old wideout known for his speed may not have been the best approach — reeks of a disconnect or confusion worse than the Bears defense suffered on that play. Sure, Nagy was doing defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano a solid by not throwing him or his scheme under the bus, but there’s a way to acknowledge mistakes and confusion without skewering your staff. Instead, Nagy came off as confused himself — not a good look for a head coach.