Matt Nagy has been running NFL offenses for the past four seasons. He coached them alongside bright minds Andy Reid and Doug Pederson for several years before that. But 2020 will be only Nagy's third as a head coach.
He opened each of his first two seasons by winning three of the first four games, losing the season opener to the Packers both times. It's how Chicago lost, and perhaps fared on offense in the ensuing weeks, that has Nagy determined to make a change for the coming season.
The 42-year-old coach reiterated, unlike last year, he'll play his starters in the preseason.
"As we talk, that's one of the things that I look back at from last year that I'm not happy about that I made a decision to do in the preseason," Nagy remarked on the Waddle & Silvy Show last Friday, per Bryan Perez of NBC Sports. "No. 1, I think it's good for them to have it, but No. 2 it sets the mentality. So that's not going to happen this year."
While Nagy would know the inner-workings of his team best, the numbers back up his assertion. The Bears produced a mere three points in the 2019 opener, 16.5 points over the first four games and 17.5 for the season, their 29th-ranked scoring offense undermining their fourth-ranked scoring defense in an 8-8 campaign.
Just a year before, Chicago, with largely the same offensive nucleus, scored 23 points in Week 1, averaged 27.7 during the first month and 25.6 in the regular season to buttress the league's top scoring defense and go 12-4 while claiming the NFC North crown.
This preseason figures to be a pivotal time to examine the biggest question on the roster: Who's going to be the quarterback? The past two months have seen Chicago trade for Nick Foles and decline the fifth-year option of Mitchell Trubisky. The Bears' history suggests both will start in 2020, but Nagy will obviously be looking for one of them to separate himself and win the job.
Otherwise he'll be left with another tough decision that might alter the course of the entire season.