How Chicago Bears players handled rumors about Matt Nagy's job status. Their reward for beating the undefeated Detroit Lions - after a chaotic, confusing week - is relief. | MCU Times

How Chicago Bears players handled rumors about Matt Nagy’s job status. Their reward for beating the undefeated Detroit Lions – after a chaotic, confusing week – is relief.

Cole Kmet had to turn off her phone this week.

Thoughts were already buzzing through the Chicago Bears’ tight-ends head as he tried to prepare for Thursday’s game against the Detroit Lions in a short week, while also aiming through a snowstorm of rumors of coach Matt Nagy’s job status.

He did not need to add questions from his friends and family to the mix, as much as the Chicago area native might understand the urge for information about a bizarre week in Lake Forest.

“I do not want to lie, it’s hard,” Kmet said of Bears’ week. “You do not know what is true, what is not. Then you see things that are true because you were there for them, and you wonder how those things come out.

“So there’s a lot of confusion in that sense. But at the end of the day, you just block it and play football.”

Bears players focused well enough to cope a 16-14 victory over 0-10-1 Lions on Cairo Santos ’28-yard field goal as time ran out, prompting quarterback Andy Dalton to use the words “some relief” as the first way to describe the feeling in the Bears’ locker room after the game.

Bears players were clearly aware that a win over a Lions team that has not won since beating the Bears on December 6, 2020 at Soldier Field was not the cause of a massive celebration. But after a couple of strange days speculating about Nagy’s job – not to mention a losing streak of five games – they were grateful for the Thanksgiving victory.

“You can relax a little – I mean, not relax – but I guess you can enjoy the win before we get to next week,” said outside linebacker Robert Quinn. “So in a brief moment we will enjoy it, and if the Lord will return safely to our families and enjoy Thanksgiving, and I have a better feeling with a victory than a loss.”

Top Bears leaders were at least partially responsible for the disruption to the players after one Patch.com Report Tuesday said the Bears would fire Nagy after the fight against the Lions.

Nagy denied to the media that he had been told he would be fired, as stated in the report. But Bear’s Chairman George McCaskey and President and CEO Ted Phillips never issued a statement to disprove the report, leaving speculation swirling.

Although Nagy spoke with his team on Tuesday, the silence from McCaskey and Phillips disappeared players at least partially in the dark about what happened until McCaskey met with the team a day later to tell them the report was not true. Kmet said McCaskey’s speech at least helped clear his head.

“Which obviously is a place you have to be in before you play a football game,” he said, “because things get dangerous out there if guys are not ready and know what they’re doing out there.”

The unrest may not have bothered all the players.

Wide receiver Darnell Mooney, who had five catches on 123 yards, said he was more locked in improving on what he felt was a poor performance against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

Dalton, who stepped in for the wounded Justin Fields and threw in 317 yards with a touchdown and an interception, had been through rumors of a coach’s job status before in Cincinnati with Marvin Lewis, so he knows how to focus through such things.

But it was still an extra issue they had to work through this week.

Kmet said the Bears held a meeting Wednesday night where players “hunkered down” to get themselves in a good mindset to play a game.

Dalton was among the speakers, at Nagy’s request, and Mooney said Dalton preached about getting their swag back, letting go and not stressing as they entered the game.

“The most important thing is that the guys in the locker room stay together through it all,” Dalton said. “No matter what is reported, no matter what happens on the outside and stuff like that, there is still a lot of season left and for us the focus is on winning matches.

“It’s the biggest thing for us that we just do everything we can to put our best foot forward and get the most out of the next one. And that was today, and we did.”

The Bears have six more games to play, starting with back-to-back games against the 9-2 Arizona Cardinals and 8-3 Green Bay Packers.

They will have to put together a better game in all stages if they are to go on a winning streak. And even if they do, the buzz around job status for Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace will continue.

The Bears defense got a stop in the fourth quarter – with the help of some Lions penalties. The offense put together an 8-minute and 30-second drive to close out the match – using a Lions penalty. Santos came through with the winning field goal after missing a 53-yard touchdown earlier in the match. And the players came out and talked about the support they wanted to show their teammates.

That was probably after a trying week, and the reward is what they hope will be a calmer Thanksgiving weekend.

“There’s a joy in that dressing room, and they are allowed to have that,” Nagy said. “They should have a great Thanksgiving today because they deserved it and they fought like hell.

“They told me what they wanted to do and they did it. How cool is that?”

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