Bears HC Matt Nagy Sounds Off on ‘Hate’ for Running the Football

Matt Nagy Bears offense 2021

Getty Head coach Matt Nagy of the Chicago Bears

Matt Nagy wants Chicago Bears fans to know one thing: He’s ready to run the football in 2021. The Bears head coach and offensive play-caller has been criticized for both his play choice and design, as well as the inability of his offense to run the ball with any kind of regularity, but he says he understands the value of the run game — and says he’s ready to use it.

Nagy called plays for the Bears offense in 2018 and 2019, but he gave up play-calling duties last year in the midst of a six-game losing streak. The Bears averaged 19.7 points a game with Nagy calling plays, and after he turned the job over to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, that number jumped to 27.7 points. To be fair, when Lazor called plays, Chicago faced much tougher opponents, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

Bears top running back David Montgomery also thrived with Lazor calling the plays, netting 579 of his 1,070 yards in the six games Lazor was play-caller. Nagy revealed this spring he will be back calling the shots on offense, but has he learned from Lazor’s success last season?

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Nagy: I Understand the Criticism

Nagy spoke to Kenneth Davis on the Under Center podcast on June 12, and the host had no shortage of challenging questions for the Bears head coach. How can Nagy change the minds of dubious fans and doubters?

“You gotta win,” the Bears coach replied. “I think that’s what we love about the fans of Chicago. They’re extremely passionate, they care so much about their Chicago Bears.”

The Bears coach also says he feels a sense of urgency to win now. “The time is now. We know that, and we’re looking forward to it. You can’t live in the past. That’s not what we’re gonna do. I refuse to allow that to happen. This is a new season, and so we’ve got a fresh start. Let’s see what we can do with it.”

Nagy also noted that for him and the Bears offense, part of that fresh start included looking back at what Lazor and the offense did well last year. “We were kind of stuck in neutral, and I thought it was a good idea to hand the play-calling over to Bill Lazor. I think he did a great job. But again, we look at the ‘whys’ after every season and how we can get better.”

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Nagy Reveals 2021 Goal for David Montgomery

The Bears had 393 rushing attempts last year, which ranked 27th out of 32 teams, and their 1,647 yards on the ground was 25th in the league. At one point, Davis got blunt and asked Nagy straight up: “Do you hate to run the football?” Nagy didn’t hesitate in his response.

“No. Not at all. Not at all. I understand what city I am in and where we’re at, with Chicago and defense and running the football. I think you have to be able to run the football in this league to be successful,” he said.

Nagy then noted he was aiming to get Montgomery at least 20 carries per game this coming season, so hopefully the third-year running back was listening to the podcast. How often Chicago runs the football this upcoming season remains to be seen, but it’s something that seems to be at the forefront of Nagy’s mind, which is a good thing for the Bears’ offense.

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