Bears’ Nagy hands over playcalling duties to OC

    Dickerson covers the Chicago Bears for ESPN’s NFL Nation. He is the co-host of “Dickerson & Hood” on the ESPN Radio national network, and is heard in Chicago on ESPN 1000.

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy announced Friday that he turned over offensive playcalling duties to coordinator Bill Lazor ahead of Monday night’s NFC North game versus the Minnesota Vikings.

“It’s just kind of where we’re at,” Nagy said on a video call after Friday’s practice. “You get a feel and you understand, ‘OK, this is where our offense is at right now,’ and we’ve been struggling and for different reasons. I don’t think it’s one particular reason, but if there’s something that can help spark us, or sometimes it’s just a changeup.

“It’s like bringing in, for instance, a different-style pitcher. You have one pitcher that throws one way, now you have another pitcher that throws another way. Sometimes change can be good in that regard, so again, none of it was for a particular reason other than we’ve just been struggling, and I feel like it’s the best thing for this team.”

Nagy had been the Bears’ lone offensive playcaller since he took over as head coach in January 2018. The Bears hired Nagy partly because of the time he spent immersed in Andy Reid’s offensive system as an assistant in Philadelphia and Kansas City.

“Is it hard to do? Absolutely,” Nagy said. “I’d be lying to every one of you guys if I told you that this is easy. It’s not easy. It’s one of my favorite parts of coaching. I love calling plays. I love it. I love it.

“Is it permanent, like you were asking me before? No, it’s not permanent. But guess what? If this is what’s best for the team, then that’s what I’m gonna do. We need to do what’s best for us, not what’s best for Matt Nagy. That’s where I’m at. I’m excited about it, you know, looking forward to it.”

Nagy — the NFL coach of the year in 2018 — boasts a 25-16 career regular-season record, but the third-year head coach had been under pressure to fix the Bears’ sputtering offense. Chicago is ranked 31st in yards per play (4.81) and third-down conversion (32.3%) and 29th in points per game (19.8), yards per carry (3.71) and yards per pass (5.71) through nine games. The Bears (5-4) are also rated 30th in red zone offensive efficiency.

Lazor, who joined Nagy’s staff last offseason, previously served as offensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins (2014-15) and Cincinnati Bengals (2017-18).

“I think many of us — maybe all of us, are at a very frustrated point right now,” Lazor said on a Friday morning video call. “How does it feel? Not very satisfying when you put so much work into it and it doesn’t produce like you’d like it to. But that’s why, over the long period, over the long haul in this league, you learn to take the emotion out of it. We’re human, so you feel frustration. But you gotta remove that. You gotta be analytic and scientific about it.

“You gotta deal with the realities of, OK, what didn’t go well and how do we fix it? You gotta be solution-oriented. If you can get everyone in the room, players and coaches together, thinking that way, solution-oriented — how do we get it better? — sometimes it looks like a huge task. But when you break it up into the little pieces and you just handle one little thing at a time, big things can then be tackled.

“That’s kinda what we have to keep our focus on. It’s always been that way. There’s never been a magic pill that I’ve found. So let’s just take care a little piece at a time, be analytic about it, remove the emotion, try to remove the frustration. And it’ll be a great story later.”

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