After beginning their tenure with 12 regular-season wins and a playoff loss to the Eagles, the duo of Mitchell Trubisky and Matt Nagy suffered through back-to-back .500 seasons before they were broken up during the 2021 offseason. Justin Fields and Matt Eberflus are enjoying some early-season success in their first year together, but the Bears’ 2-1 record is a bit deceptive. They haven’t looked good.
When things don’t look great, adversity usually follows. And when adversity arrives, leadership is tested.
Something that I think fans heard too often from Nagy and Trubisky was a deflection. It was rare that either one of them took responsibility for the Bears’ struggles while in Chicago.
After a disappointing 2019 season, Mitchell Trubisky deflected some of the responsibility for the offense’s struggles, instead blaming health and lack of details on his side of the ball. And how many times did we hear Nagy search for the whys after a loss or poor team showing?
The ‘why’ for an NFL team almost always boils down to its leaders, but Nagy looked elsewhere.
“We’ve got to be a heck of a lot better offensively,” Nagy said after last year’s poor offensive showing versus the Browns. “I feel as you watch the tape, in really all different areas, not just one person and in a lot of different areas, all of us, [have to be] better getting into that rhythm.”
Good leaders take charge and take responsibility when things go wrong and spread the credit when things go right. Trubisky and Nagy were great at the latter but bad at the former, and for a franchise that has seen a lot of subpar football, the former is more important.
Although Justin Fields has started 13 games, the Bears have only really been his team this year. Through his first three games of 2022, the team has struggled, despite having two wins. But instead of pushing the blame around, Fields and Eberflus compete with each other for responsibility.
Fields admitted that he “played like trash” against the Texans, saying, “my response to that is get back to work and keep working….Just looking at the past, [I ask]: ‘What can you do to get better? What can you do to improve?”
Eberflus took the time not only to take his share of the blame, saying, “Let’s focus on the corrections and have our eyes forward into the next week and how I can improve,” but also to ease some of the stress that Fields puts on himself. When discussing the passing attack, Eberflus said, “It’s everybody. It really is. It’s the receivers, it’s the tight ends, it’s the running back, it’s the quarterback, it’s the protection. All of those come into play with the timing and the rhythm of the passing game….We’ve got to make sure we have a clean pocket for him to ride the pocket up and then deliver the ball.”
While it’s reassuring that Fields is making sure to take responsibility for his team, he is undoubtedly his own worst critic, so he would do well with letting Eberflus relieve some of that pressure. It will take time to see if this duo can make some noise in the NFL, but it is refreshing as a Bears fan to see that more responsibility is being taken for poor play.