Chicago Bears and coach Matt Nagy grapple with New Orleans Saints season-ending playoff loss

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Nagy named the team on the ground as the organization to emulate. He called attention to the discipline and execution of the saints.

To achieve that goal, the Bears will have to grapple with several questions about the 2020 season. Why was a 5-1 start followed by a six-game losing streak? Why did the defense fall behind as the attack gained momentum? Why did the team finish 1-7 against the playoff teams and 3-8 to end the season?

“We clearly went through some growing pains during that time, during that six-game slippage, but we got it,” said tackle Charles Leno Jr. “We showed some resilience, and we bounced back, found a way to do it. the playoffs. Things did not go the way we wanted. ”

After the game, Leno made a point of telling every player in the dressing room that he appreciated him. The seventh-year tackle could take comfort in the fact that his unit has exceeded expectations in the final six weeks of the season.

However, the offense only managed 140 yards against the Saints before a 99-yard drive in the dying minutes when the game was out of reach.

“I think identity is an offense,” Nagy said, “you can see we feel like we’ve created an identity. But how can we learn from it? Well, part of you see that in games like today, no matter who you are, you still have to be able to run the game. ”

Nagy clarified that the offense didn’t need a 150-yard performance from running back David Montgomery in every game. Still, the racing game had to be better to put the Bears in more manageable situations.

Montgomery finished the day with 31 yards on 12 carries.

Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky completed 19 of 29 passes for 199 yards and a touchdown. While his future in Chicago was uncertain for much of the season, he said he could see himself coming back to build on some of the year-end progress.

“We’ll see,” Trubisky said. “There are a lot of things to do and a lot of decisions to be made, and it’s out of my control, but I can see [me returning].  »

The days and weeks ahead will be filled with evaluation by the coaching staff, with Nagy admitting that big decisions could be in the works.

“I just told the guys in the locker room that in order for us to get better,” Nagy said, “and to be the team that we need to be, that’s something we’re going to do here in the offseason, that is. is to make sure that wherever there is a weakness, we make it a strength, and that’s going to take everyone. Today was not good enough. ”

The vaunted Bear Defense also faces a crossroads. Since the dominant performance of 2018, the unit has regressed in several areas. Despite heavy investments in the passing rush and high school, the Bears finished 16th in sacks and 25th in forced turnovers.

Seven players who started eight or more games in defense will be over 30 at the start of next season, including defensive tackle Akiem Hicks and outside linebackers Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn.

Hicks dismissed the idea that the defense missed their window to lead the Bears to the Super Bowl.

“Whatever you think,” Hicks said, “whatever you believe and how you talk about yourself, they tend to all be true. I tend to speak positively to myself and tend to believe that there is always another opportunity. forcing me into a positive state. I don’t believe a window is closing. I don’t believe my opportunity is wasted. ”

Hicks shared that defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano often tells players, “I’m not the man I want to be, but I’m better than the man I am today. Hicks took the saying to heart.

“As far as the windows are concerned,” Hicks said, “and when it comes to opportunities for this game, I realize where I am in my ninth year. But I also believe that I also have a lot of fighting. in me. I also believe that there are better days to come. ”

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