Matt Nagy
© Ron Chenoy | 2019 Sep 15

Matt Nagy © Ron Chenoy | 2019 Sep 15

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They don’t paint pictures on a scorecard in golf.

And they don’t give you points for pretty in football.

It’s merely wins and losses. And the Chicago Bears managed to win a football game Sunday in Denver.

After trying their best to give it away, they were able to make one play in the final seconds and kicker Eddie Pineiro saved them from themselves, with a 53-yard field goal as time ran out.

The 16-14 victory evened the Bears record at 1-1 and gave them new life in a season that nearly ended after two weeks with what would have been a crushing defeat.

Ironically, it was Mitch Trubisky stepping up — and stepping up in the pocket — on fourth-and-15 from the Bears’ 40, a beautiful 25-yard throw down the middle to Allen Robinson with a single second remaining in the game, giving Pineiro an opportunity.

It erased so many Bears mistakes, including the penalty for too many men in the huddle on offense and — of course — the offside penalty that allowed the Broncos another chance to go for a 2-point conversion after a missed extra point.

Ironic because head coach Matt Nagy completely and wisely took this game out of the quarterback’s hands, allowing his running game and defense to carry the day.

It was working perfectly until the Bears’ defense succumbed to the mile-high air in Denver on two long Broncos drives in the fourth quarter.

One of those was the result of Nagy’s worst series of the day, when he ran it once and threw it twice on a three-and-out early in the fourth quarter.

Maybe he couldn’t help himself.

Up until then, he had managed the game — and Trubisky — quite nicely.

Three years into his NFL career, the veteran quarterback can’t be trusted with an NFL offense, something the dearly-departed John Fox was crucified for on his way out the door.

So instead of starting the game with the typical Nagy razzle, he also took out the dazzle and went for the safe and simple. Considering the strength of the Bears’ defense, this is a formula that can work.

With a condensed game plan, Trubisky attempted only three long passes in the first half — all underthrown or overthrown — but he did just fine with 11 short throws or screens and the Bears were able to move the football on a couple of decent drives, giving the defense a chance to catch its breath.

The Bears also ran it 16 times in the first half to 14 pass attempts, committing to the balance they failed to look for in the opener against Green Bay.

For the game, it was 29 runs to 27 throws, after it was 45 to 15 passes to rushes a week ago.

This is a big change for Nagy, and he was admitting through his play calls Sunday that he’s been trying too hard to display his genius and make Trubisky a superstar in the process.

What he’s found to this point is that Trubisky under pressure will crack, knowing the QB’s inability to read an NFL defense, and even before that final fourth-down throw he made two ugly attempts to get the ball downfield.

What Nagy saw in the Packers game was Trubisky unable to look off defenders and too often staring down receivers.

The Green Bay safeties were baiting him all night and when he wasn’t missing throws he was frequently forcing the ball.

This shows growth on Nagy’s part, willing to check his ego and let his linemen run downhill. It’s not exciting, but it’s effective in a weak league where most teams won’t be able to handle the Bears’ defense.

Trubisky nearly handed Denver a pick-6 early in the second half when he threw a screen into traffic, but for the most part he protected the football because Nagy didn’t give him many chances to give it to the Broncos.

The Bears’ one and only touchdown of the season — in the third quarter Sunday — came on a nine-play drive that went 79 yards with 9 runs.

It looked then like a 13-3 lead would be plenty.

It turned out to be much more difficult than it should have been, and in the end will be remembered as a thrilling victory on the strength of a kicker’s leg, no doubt the source of so much pride for GM Ryan Pace, who has been unable to stabilize that position since he cut loose Robbie Gould before the 2016 season.

Once the madness of the final few minutes of Sunday’s game subsides, what ought to be remembered is the way Nagy handled the offense.

For the most part, he was able to keep himself, and thus Trubisky, in check all day. If Nagy can stay with the program next week against an 0-2 Washington team, the Bears will be 2-1.

And right back in the hunt.

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This article originally ran on profootballweekly.com.

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