(670 The Score) The Bears believed they had an opportunity to prove themselves against the Rams on Monday night. Instead, they were exposed.
The Bears lost 24-10 to the Rams, falling to 5-2. Facing a legitimate contender in the NFC, Chicago realized how far away it is from that level of play. Here are the observations from the Bears-Rams matchup.
It starts with Nagy
Bears coach Matt Nagy almost certainly watched the game film on the four-hour red-eye flight back to Chicago early Tuesday morning.
"I'm going to start with myself and then critique and hold everybody accountable for the execution part," Nagy said after the game.
But how honest will Nagy be in grading himself?
Nagy's play-calling has been predictable since late in the 2018 season. The Bears averaged 28.7 points in the first 12 games of Nagy's tenure. In the 28 games since -- including a wild-card round loss to the Eagles in January 2019 -- the Bears have averaged 18.2 points per game.
The worst moment for Nagy was either a weak-side pitch to Cordarrelle Patterson on fourth-and-1 late in the third quarter, a play that lost two yards, or a sequence in which the Bears were forced to burn two timeouts within three plays because of pre-snap dysfunction in the second quarter. Either way, Nagy was to blame.
On Monday night, Nagy squared off against Rams rookie defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, who was the Bears' outside linebackers coach from 2017-'18. In a somewhat surprising move, Staley wasn't retained by Nagy after the 2018 season. Two years later, Rams coach Sean McVay hired Staley as his defensive coordinator.
Staley knew that he could rush just four or bring exotic rushes off the edge and fluster the Bears' offensive line. The threat of superstar defensive lineman Aaron Donald drew attention from the Bears' offensive line, if not blocks. The rest of the Rams defense consistently pressureed quarterback Nick Foles.
Staley exposed his former head coach before a national audience, utilizing his defensive talent to stifle Nagy's offense. It was only in the fourth quarter that Nagy adjusted his offense to a more high-tempo attack that best fits Foles. That was far too late.
Nagy needs to make drastic changes to his offense or hand over play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor.
The Bears' flight back from Los Angeles surely had to be silent. What kind of self-reflection did Nagy allow himself?
He said what?
Somewhere between the final whistle at SoFi Stadium and when Foles stood before a computer screen on Zoom for his postgame media session, he was shown a video clip of comments made by ESPN analyst Brian Griese in the fourth quarter as the Bears struggled.
“We were talking to Nick Foles yesterday,” Griese said on the national broadcast. “And he said, ‘You know, sometimes play calls come in and I know that I don’t have time to execute that play call. I’m the one out here getting hit. Sometimes the guy calling the plays -- Matt Nagy -- he doesn’t know how much time there is back here.’ So that’s something they have to get worked out.”
After he was made aware of Griese's comments, Foles called it a "miscommunication" and added, "I could see how it would be taken that way." Foles made it clear that he had explained to Griese how he and Nagy communicate throughout a game, using an example of how he would tell Nagy how to adjust plays off of expected pressure.
But the comments highlighted a problem -- Nagy still isn't catering his offense to what's best-suited for Foles, the same way he failed to properly build around Mitchell Trubisky.
Foles prefers a faster-tempo offense and quick passes. Trubisky hoped for more play-action and moving pockets. Nagy is instead attempting to fit his quarterbacks into his offense that lacks an identity and isn't working.
The Bears cited Foles' comfort with Nagy when they acquired him. Their relationship is strong, something they both mentioned after learning of Griese's comments.
But Foles and Nagy clearly aren't on the same page.
Believe it or not, the Bears' worst play Monday came on defense.
With 8:39 remaining in the third quarter, Rams quarterback Jared Goff handed off to running back Malcolm Brown, who kept pushing -- and pushing and pushing in a big pile -- through the Bears' vaunted defense. He reached the 1-yard line before being brought down in a scrum. One play later, Brown waltzed into the end zone.
The Rams rushed 34 times for 161 yards -- the most the Bears have allowed all season -- and dictated the game on the ground. Darrell Henderson led the way with 15 carries for 64 yards. Brown carried 10 times for 57 yards.
The Bears' run defense was weak against a more physical team. The task doesn't get much easier for the Bears, who next face Saints rushers Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray.
The Bears made an eye-opening decision when they released 2016 first-round pick Leonard Floyd in March. Days later, he was signed by the Rams.
Staley was Floyd's position coach in Chicago and still believed in him. The Bears got a glimpse of why Monday, with Staley rushing Floyd off openings created by Donald. He finished with six tackles, two sacks and three quarterback hurries.
For the Bears, Floyd's disruptive night added insult to injury.
Go to Cole
Bears rookie tight end Cole Kmet hauled in a 38-yard catch in the first quarter, then saw just one target after that -- a seven-yard reception.
Despite showing flashes of his potential, Kmet continues to have a smaller role than veteran Y tight end Demetrius Harris.
"Cole Kmet is going to start playing more in this offense," Nagy said. "He’s deserved it. He earns it. He’s a guy that I think I’m really proud of the way he’s playing. For us, we have to be aware of that, understand that and start using him more."
-- The Bears ran their first four plays for 20 yards in just two minutes, opening up their offense with tempo. Then right guard Germain Ifedi held Donald, setting the offense back. Three plays later, the Bears punted. What could've been a statement openig drive was let down by the offensive line.
-- Facing fourth-and-1 from their own 19-yard line in the second quarter, Nagy made a gutsy call to go for it. Foles snuck for what appeared to be a first down, but guard Rashaad Coward was called for a false start. That had to infuriate Nagy.
-- The Bears stopped Brown on a third-down rush with 26 seconds remaining in the first half. Nagy declined to use his last timeout to force a punt, instead letting both teams head to the locker room for halftime. Why, I'm not sure.
-- Rams punter Johnny Hekker punted five times Monday, pinning the Bears inside their own 20-yard line each time. He averaged 44.2 yards per punt, including a long of 63 yards. Bears punt returner Ted Ginn Jr. didn't field a single punt. That's perplexing, if not frustrating.
-- Mario Edwards is the latest revelation on the Bears' defensive line. There are few people inside Halas Hall better at their jobs than defensive line coach Jay Rodgers.
-- In the third quarter, Eddie Jackson leaped into the air and came down holding his left knee. It was a non-contact injury that created a scare. A torn Achilles? An ACL tear? Instead, Jackson came back a few plays later and also scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Phew.
-- Foles simply can't throw the pass that turned into his first interception. It was an off-balance throw to the corner of the end zone that stood no chance at success.
-- Through seven games, the Bears have scored seven points in the third quarter. Adjustments are made in the locker room at halftime, and foes are making those better than Nagy and the Bears. Clearly, this coaching staff has no answers for the offense.
-- The best part of this national broadcast was when play-by-play voice Steve Levy told a story of Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks drinking 40 beers in one day during his days as a student at the University of Regina.
-- The Bears could've used an extended layoff after this performance. Instead, they have a short week and host the Saints (4-2) at Soldier Field on Sunday.
Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.