CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy is handing off play-calling duties, after all.
Nagy said Friday he’s giving that job to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor in an effort to lift an offense that ranks among the NFL’s worst.
Nagy announced the decision after practice, saying it was a difficult and necessary move to make.
The Bears (5-4) have lost three in a row heading into their game against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field on Monday night. Chicago then has a bye.
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“If this is what’s best for the team, then that’s what I’m gonna do,” Nagy said. “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.”
It’s not clear if the change is just for one week or a permanent switch.
“I hate to say anything is permanent, but just try to really focus on this week with the Vikings and keep it at that,” Nagy said. “Then we’ll have the bye and go from there.”
Nagy said a few weeks ago he was open to the idea of handing off play-calling duties. But he wasn’t ready at the time to take that step.
He said Monday, a day after the offense struggled again in a loss at Tennessee, he was mulling a change in play-callers. He also said if he did make a switch, he wasn’t sure he would go public with an announcement.
But on Friday, he did just that.
“It’s nothing personal towards anyone outside of this organization or anything like that, but after you start thinking about it, you start talking about it, I think it just makes most sense to go ahead and just explain the why part,” Nagy said. ”That’s kind of what we’re doing right now. Everybody understands. There’s no questions. There’s no concerns. It is what it is and now we just go ahead and move forward.”
The offense has been stuck all season. And things haven’t gotten any better since quarterback Nick Foles replaced Mitchell Trubisky during a Week 3 win at Atlanta.
Chicago ranks 29th in the NFL in yards per game and scoring (19.8) and last in rushing. The Bears have more offensive penalties (63) than any other team.
A lack of reliable play-makers to go with receiver Allen Robinson and a line that wasn’t really providing the needed protection before it got banged up haven’t made things easier.
The past three games have been particularly rough.
The Bears got dominated by the Los Angeles Rams on a Monday night, fell in overtime to New Orleans and didn’t score until the fourth quarter against Tennessee in a 24-17 loss that really wasn’t close. And they’re starting at a three-game stretch against NFC North opponents. After the bye, the Bears visit Green Bay and host Detroit.
“I’d be lying to every one of you guys if I told you that this is easy,” Nagy said. “It’s not easy. It’s one of my favorite parts of coaching. I love calling plays. I love it. I love it.”
Nagy is going with Lazor — who last called plays for Cincinnati in 2018 — over quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo and pass game coordinator Dave Ragone. DeFilippo was offensive coordinator in Cleveland, Minnesota and Jacksonville.
Nagy has been in a similar situation. He was Kansas City’s offensive coordinator in 2017 when coach Andy Reid handed him play-calling duties late in the season, with the Chiefs at 6-5 following a 5-0 start. They wound up winning the AFC West at 10-6.
“For me in that time where he was able to show the trust in me at that point to give it to me to run the offense and call the plays, it was a little bit of a change up,” Nagy said. “And sometimes when you’re in this position that we’re in right now, you want to make sure that you’re looking for solutions.”
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