There will be a lot of discussion today about the #Bears‘ use of Cordarrelle Patterson at running back. Got a lot of reps there today.
— Adam Jahns (@adamjahns) August 17, 2020
The 2018 Chicago Bears were fun. They were so much fun that Noah Brier (dot com), the technology-minded former DJ responsible for this little website’s existence, reemerged in the underground dwelling known as Josie Woods, now with a young daughter reciting those famous words, “Bear down, Chicago Bears”. They were so much fun that I sat awake in a tiny Parisian hotel room, in the middle of the night, putting back 1664 tall boys and enthusiastically (but silently) cheering a primetime victory over the Vikings. (The experience all-but ruined the next day’s travel.) They were so much fun that Noah and I never even considered not going to Chicago for their home playoff game against the Eagles, cost be damned.
The 2018 Bears had defensive linemen in the backfield. A kid quarterback showing promise. Tarik Cohen looking borderline uncoverable by linebackers, safeties, anyone. Fake photoshoots in the end zone. Dance parties in the locker room. The team that had just suffered through the Greek tragedy of Marc Trestman and monotonously slow blood draining of John Fox’s tenure were giving joy to a fan base that had begun to view watching Bears games as a predictably joyless experience.
Then 2019 came. And the joylessness returned.
That’s why as the news began to surface the Bears planned to use Cordarrelle Pattersson in the back field, it was a breath of fresh air. Matt Nagy: “We want to be able to get the most of out of him…when you have weapons like that, you want to find ways to get them the ball.” This is a strikingly 2018 mentality. In 2018, Nagy knew what he didn’t have (yet, he thought) at the quarterback position and compensated with creativity. Folks considered these gimmicks but they clever devices designed to ask less of Mitch Trubisky. In 2019, he thought he had more at the position, thought Trubisky could effectively run his offense, and was caught flat-footed as a play caller because of that season-defining error.
Now he knows. He knows the ceiling for these quarterbacks is…good, not great. He knows that success for this offense will be defined by creatively getting the ball to players like Patterson and Cohen, making holes for David Montgomery, feeding Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller, letting Teddy Ginn fly over the top. The playmakers have to make plays and without a quarterback to reliably facilitate that production, the responsibility falls unto the guy holding the biggest piece of laminated paper on the sideline.
Nagy’s gig is to max out the performance of all these fellas but also restore joy to the offensive side of the ball. Be. Fun. Again. Fans will forgive failure, to a certain degree, if it’s fun failure. Sports are, after all, still an entertainment product. There’s a reason nobody tunes in to watch Virginia play college basketball or Zach Johnson play golf. It’s not because they don’t execute their particular approach well. It’s because their approach is a bit of a snooze. If Nagy can re-instill a 2018 joy into this offense, that joy will permeate every tentacle of the organization: sideline, media, fans, everyone.
And let that be the calling card of the 2020 Chicago Bears.