Trick Plays Like in 2018 and That's Not All Good – Bear Maven

If it truly was Matt Nagy's last game as coach at Soldier Field Sunday, the Bears coach went out the way he came in back during the 2018 season.
The Bears took plenty of risks and used trickery like nose tackle Khyiris Tonga at fullback on the goal line and running back David Montgomery throwing jump passes.
When the offense is given the ball on the doorstep to the goal line, it's easy to commit to gambles and they did it repeatedly in a 29-3 win over the moribund Giants Sunday at Soldier Field.
This was vintage Nagy from the 2018 season, back when the Bears defense dominated and afforded him the opportunity to explore all options in his playbook and imagination.
Lining massive Tonga up in the backfield as blocker actually wasn't really that innovative. The Bears did it 36 year ago with William Perry, and with similar results to Sunday.
"Well, Tonga has been running that since college," wide receiver Darnell Mooney said. "We've seen some clips of that from college literally getting the ball and scoring. We've been seeing it all year honestly. We put that in during training camp."
A fourth-and-2 gamble at the 4-yard line and it's Mooney making it pay off at the back of the end zone for a touchdown. A fourth-and-1 gamble before the two-minute warning and David Montgomery converts when the easy field goal was there. They wound up with a field goal, anyway, but then benefited from Giants incompetence when the ensuring kickoff was botched, setting up terrible field position and a safety by Angelo Blackson.
The jump pass didn't work so well, as extra tackles checked in and made it look like a run was coming, then David Montgomery couldn't will Cole Kmet open. The ball was picked off at the goal line.
"Oh man. So that's been in the incubator for a few weeks, that play, practicing it," Nagy said, adding that Montgomery was taking his share of ribbing for throwing an interception.
"The guys are razzing him, all the running backs," Nagy said. "Cole came over and he was razzing him. That's one of those plays that, again, it can be really good or it can be really bad. It happened to be really bad but, again, in that situation, when it hits, it's fun. It didn't and he'll learn from it and he might dream about it tonight, but he'll forget—I said, 'Don't let that affect your next play,' so, he'll be good with that."
Mooney came to the aid of his teammate and bowling partner, expressing confidence he could pull the play off if given a chance again.
"If he can do it again and him just being able to throw it because he definitely has a good arm, I think he's probably the fourth-string quarterback for sure," Mooney said, laughing.
The flea flicker to Mooney was standard stuff compared to all Nagy and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor pulled out of their trick bag. It went for 23 yards to set up a field goal.
The problem with all of this is the Bears were doing it against an opponent that packed up the trucks four or five weeks ago.
It's been the legacy of Nagy's era to produce bigger results against weak teams or ones hopelessly out of it, then fold up the against strong opponents. It's something they've done regularly since Cody Parkey's field goal try double-doinked.
This year they did beat Cincinnati, but it was before the Bengals realized they had arrived. They lost to the Rams, Arizona, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, San Francisco and twice to the Packers. That's seven losses in eight games with playoff teams.
"I appreciated it for the players to be able to have this, because they deserve it and it's nice, whether you're winning or losing or it's a close game," Nagy said. "We've talked about, with our next opponent with Minnesota, you got so many close games. It comes down to the last play.
"It's nice to have one where you're able to be in control from the first play to the last play. And so being where we've been through this year, again, the one thing I'm very impressed with and appreciate from the players and coaches is the effort and the care."
They've always had that ability to buckle down against the have-nots, as this game seemed reminiscent of the wins over Jacksonville and Houston last year. 
They could almost always beat Detroit and Minnesota, as well.
They can run their trick plays to heart's content against bottom feeders.
The Bears never graduated from the level they achieved in Nagy's first year. Beating good teams requires execution of sound, basic football plays better than the opponent, not chicanery. The tricks only work if they can execute basic football first.
All the fun and frolic after Sunday's win rang hollow considering what will inevitably happen after the Vikings game ends next week for a 6-10 Bears team.
It will be the goal of the next regime to elevate this group to where it appeared they were headed at the end of the 2018 season, back when they were capable of running trick plays like "Santa's Sleigh," a TD pass to a tackle, and making it pay off for a win over a good Rams team rather than a route of refuse like the Giants.
Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven publisher Gene Chamberlain has covered the Bears full time for various publications, news services and websites over 30 years, including several years collaborating on weekly NFL/Bears columns with Mike Ditka and Walter Payton for the Copley Newspaper Chain.


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