Chicago Bears: The failures so far are not all Matt Nagy’s fault

Chicago Bears (Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports)
Chicago Bears (Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports) /

The trendy thing for Chicago Bears fans to do since the team performed poorly last Sunday in Cleveland is to call for Matt Nagy to lose his job. That might make fans feel better but the Chicago Bears’ problems run deeper than that.

Matt Nagy didn’t put together a shoddy offensive line – General Manager Ryan Pace did. Nor did Nagy mismanage the salary cap so badly that there wasn’t money available to fix the line – again, that’s on Pace. Who drafted Teven Jenkins without having a full understanding of his injury history? Again, Ryan Pace.

Pace put the line together but it’s the players who missed the blocks or got trucked. It’s the wide receivers who failed to get open, giving rookie quarterback Justin Fields nowhere to go with the ball while he was under pressure. And Fields, doing what rookies often do, especially in their first starts, held on to the ball too long at times against the Cleveland Browns.

This isn’t to let Nagy fully off the hook. The criticisms of his inability to adjust his scheme to fit his quarterback, be it Fields or former Bear Mitchell Trubisky, are valid. The snap count never changed Sunday and that’s likely on the coaches.

Certainly, Nagy should’ve seen that the Browns were in full-on kill mode and adjusted to help Fields, whether with rollouts or chips or screens or max protection. There are also understandable concerns about his ability to develop young talent – concerns that take on extra importance given what Fields means to the future of the franchise.

There are pros and cons to Matt Nagy as a head football coach so far in his career.

It’s also clear that Nagy’s faults and flaws have been a pattern – this wasn’t solely just one bad day caused by an unstoppable pass rush. Justin Fields wasn’t here yet when the play calling was so bad that Nagy fired himself from that responsibility and handed it off to Bill Lazor.

All that said, Nagy could still grow and learn and improve. Not to mention that no matter who the coach is, if Ryan Pace isn’t constructing the roster properly, the Bears won’t succeed. And as running back David Montgomery said after the game Sunday, it’s ultimately up to the players to execute, no matter who is standing on the sideline or sitting in the press box.

Perhaps there is concern on the part of this author that given the hires made before Nagy, the Bears will actually do worse with their next coach if they fire him. It’s hard to tell now if any defense of Nagy is built around his positives and giving him a chance to improve, or if it’s based on concern that the Bears might hire another Marc Trestman.

The fact that this is even an issue speaks to a greater problem with Bears’ upper management. It’s another reason the problems run deeper than Matt Nagy.

Is it possible that Nagy isn’t a good head coach? Yes. Is it possible he’s a good head coach but not for this team at this time? Also yes. Is it possible he is a good head coach and he just needs to identify his flaws as a play-caller and team leader and fix them? Again, also yes.

It’s hard to tell which of those scenarios is the most likely. It seems unlikely, however, that a mid-season firing of the head coach will result in meaningful positive change for the 2021 season. The rot runs deep and whether Nagy will be here a long time or will be packing his bags sooner than later is an issue that resides on the surface.

Launching Nagy might placate fans but the best way to fix this team over the long term is to dig deep and make truly meaningful change.

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