The honeymoon may be over for Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy and quarterback Nick Foles. The Bears quarterback was the first one to make the analogy comparing his relationship with Nagy to that of a married couple, and considering the events of the last two weeks, it looks like the two may have hit a bumpy stage.
First, there was Griese Gate, when former quarterback and current Monday Night Football announcer Brian Griese said the following on air to a nationally televised audience just over a week ago: “I was talking to Nick Foles yesterday, and he said: ‘Sometimes, play calls come in, and I know that I don’t have time to execute that play call, and I’m the one out here getting hit. Sometimes the guy calling the plays … he doesn’t know how much time there is back here,’ and so that’s something that they have to get worked out.”
Foles and Nagy brushed it off as a “miscommunication” by Griese, and they both made sure to reiterate to the media how strong their relationship is afterward. But after losing two in a row and consistently dragging out one of the worst offenses in the league, the Bears head coach has become a tad more agitated than he was when they were 5-1 just a few weeks back — and his latest postgame comments were a bit revealing.
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Matt Nagy and the Wristband Comment…
When asked about his team’s curious lack of discipline after the Bears’ 26-23 overtime loss to the New Orleans Saints Sunday, Nagy agreed the team’s sloppiness was a huge issue, and he got blunt about it.
“There’s issues there,” Nagy said. “That’s what bothers me and that’s what pisses me off, is that there is that issue still going on. Excuse my French. But, you know, we’re reading it from a wristband, I just, I’m struggling with that right now. It’s getting you into a hole. And so that has to change.”
The Bears had two delay of game penalties and a false start on offense in the loss, and there were multiple moments Foles and the o-line were out of sorts before the snap, including one play that led to one of the delay of game flags.
On that play, Foles was looking at his wristband, and he was alternately communicating with both David Montgomery and Ryan Nall when tackle Charles Leno yelled: ‘Hurry up!’ in the hopes of getting Foles to snap the ball before the play clock expired. He didn’t, the Bears were flagged and yet another manageable third down become more difficult. Nagy was visibly frustrated after the game, and his mentioning of the wristband as a source of frustration is key.
Mitch Trubisky used a wristband as a reference, and Foles has also used one throughout his career — it’s his preference. Nagy then called on his team’s leaders the step up and stop the bleeding. One of those leaders is Foles.
“Anytime you lose two games in a row, that part hurts too,” Nagy said. “We don’t want that, we don’t like that. We’ve got to rely on the leaders right now. In times like this, this is times in my opinion, when the leaders on this team, they step up and they say, ‘All right, enough’s enough. It’s go time.’ And that’s where we’re at right now.”
Nick Foles Responds to Nagy’s Wristband Comment
After the game, Foles had this to say about the team’s communication issues and Nagy’s wristband comment:
“We just need to communicate better, and that’s something that we’ll have to talk about as we go forward. That’s something that we as players and coaches will get together and figure out where the issues are lying because I don’t have an answer for you. I know that each game, we’ve had a couple instances that hasn’t — the communication has been lost, so we need to figure out what’s going on … The wristband is basically for unique plays that maybe there are different tags that become little stories of themselves. It’s just easier to have it on the wristband to make sure. I like it because it allows me more time at the line of scrimmage to see things … so there is a purpose for it. I believe in the wristband. I’ve done it for a lot of my career. The communication thing — great teams communicate well, and that is something we’re working toward.”
So, a tool Foles utilizes and “believes in” was an irritant of sorts for his head coach. This could be nothing at all, or it could be a sign that cracks are forming within the team, at least between the head coach and quarterback. Nagy tried to backpedal a bit Monday when asked to further clarify his comments about the dreaded wristband.
“We have a wristband,” he said. “Well, actually the headset went out last night a couple series after that and we have the wristband for different reasons, whether that’s certain hashes we’re on that makes the play easy to call or if it’s a unique formation or something. But we also have other plays on there that are very simple. That just happened to be a play right there where we used the wristband for the call and there was reasons for it. Which I’m not going to get into.”
Nagy’s wristband comment was unsolicited and clearly directed at Foles, but once he realized he was going to field questions from the media about a possible disconnect between him and his quarterback, he tried to smooth it over. But the Bears have too many rough edges for that to keep working. Unless some serious adjustments are made somewhere, things could get very bad very fast in Chicago.