CHICAGO – Matt Nagy left the second-guessing to the pundits Monday morning.
The Bears coach did not waver on his decision to have Mitch Trubisky take a knee on first down with 43 seconds remaining Sunday against the Chargers rather than run another play to try to shorten Eddy Pineiro’s potential winning 41-yard field-goal attempt.
“I would do it again a thousand times,” he said.
The fact that Pineiro’s attempt missed wide left and resulted in a 17-16 Chargers victory didn’t change his mind.
Nagy said Sunday night he didn’t run another play because of the risk of a fumble, a sack or a negative yardage play. On Monday, he added the possibility of an offensive-holding penalty to his list of reasons.
“I’m very, very comfortable knowing what I did,” Nagy said at his Monday news conference. “I’m very, very comfortable knowing that if I’m in that exact situation again, at that same yard line, I’m going to do the same thing. You got me?”
However, Nagy argued the decision wasn’t a sign he thought his offense was going to make a losing mistake.
“It’s not about trust,” Nagy said. “It’s about playing smart. It’s a 40-yard field goal. That takes nothing away from Pineiro. We love Eddy. We have all the faith in the world in him. We know he’s going to bounce back.”
In defending his logic, Nagy pointed to a similar situation late in the Broncos-Colts game Sunday.
With his team trailing by one point with first down at the Broncos 34-yard line, Colts coach Frank Reich went conservative, and the Colts lost a yard on a sack and totaled 2 yards on two running plays. But Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, the NFL’s all-time leading scorer, made a 51-yard field goal inside Lucas Oil Stadium to win it 15-13.
The plays didn’t get the Colts much closer, but nobody was questioning them because they won.
The Bears, however, lost, and Nagy’s decision was debated beyond the local outlets Sunday and Monday.
Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy and former NFL safety Rodney Harrison addressed the topic on NBC Sports’ “Football Night in America,” and they brought up the Bears’ rocky recent history with kickers.
After all, Cody Parkey’s double doink on a 43-yard field-goal attempt in the playoff loss to the Eagles in January was in the north end zone, just as Pineiro’s attempt was. The Bears held a wild offseason kicking competition to find Pineiro. But he had been steady heading into Sunday, making 9 of 10 field-goal attempts, his only miss against the Redskins when he was battling a right knee injury.
“How do you settle for something like that when you’ve had so many problems with the field-goal kickers this year?” Harrison asked.
“Matt Nagy, have some confidence in your run game,” Dungy said. “You might not score, but you’ll get closer. Don’t rely on your field-goal kicker.”
Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, however, took Nagy’s side on NFL Network.
Sanders pointed to a Bears offense that ranks 28th with 281.4 yards per game and 27th with 18.3 points per game as another reason not to run another play.
“What are you going to do in 40 seconds? Throw a pick?” Sanders said. “What are you going to do offensively right there? Nothing. Ain’t no way in the world.
“Let me tell you, Trubisky almost got sacked on the play before. You take that sack, you may be out of field-goal range. He made a heck of a play, a heck of a scramble to even get them that close. (Nagy) is exactly right. … What he’s saying is the kicker has to make that. What about him? But he can’t throw him up under the bus. That’s a layup. Forty-one-yard field goal. Baby, that’s a layup. You’ve got one job. Kick the darn ball through the goal posts.”
Nagy said he believes Pineiro will put himself in position to do that moving forward.
“Because I know who he is as a person,” Nagy said. “And we’ve seen it in practice and we’ve already seen him nail a 53-yard game-winner in Denver.”
The Bears will never know if Pineiro would have kicked another winner if he had been a few yards closer. And Nagy is OK with that.
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