The Chicago Bears hired Matt Nagy as head coach prior to the 2018 season because he sported a resume that suggested he’d be the next young offensive guru to revolutionize a stale offense like Sean McVay did with the Los Angeles Rams. Now four seasons into his regime, the Bears are still waiting for Nagy to develop into that guy.
In his first season with the team, Nagy led the Bears’ offense to 20th in yards per game and a promising top-10 finish in points. In 2019, Chicago regressed to 29th in both yards per game and points, and last season, the Bears were 26th in yards and 22nd in points. Those are hardly numbers that scream offensive genius.
But Nagy’s failures go beyond raw statistics. Watching a Bears game on any given Sunday feels like you’re watching an exercise of disorganization and mania. It’s the same feeling I get while watching my nine-year-old play Madden 22: he’s just mashing buttons and calling plays without any strategy other than, “Hey, this might work!”
In Week 3’s loss to the Cleveland Browns, Nagy’s system—if you want to call it one—became undone. It failed, and it failed miserably. The Bears passed for a total of 68 yards and ran for 48 more. They didn’t score an offensive touchdown. It looked as bad as the production suggests, too. It was like watching a youth football junior varsity game with dads disguised as coaches who aren’t qualified to call plays, calling plays.
Browns star edge rusher Myles Garrett had what may be the most damaging assessment of Nagy’s play-calling after the game. According to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, Garrett said Cleveland’s defense was surprised by how Nagy used Fields. The fact the Bears didn’t move Fields around or get him outside the pocket shocked Garrett and made his and his defensive teammates’ jobs easier.
Yikes. Nagy made the Browns defense’s job easier. Not great, Matt. Not great.
It was already a bloody Monday for Nagy before Garrett’s harsh criticism. His words served as chum for the sharks circling around Nagy Sunday night and into Monday on Twitter. Here’s a small sample of why Nagy probably should stay off social media for the next few days:
The number of tweets that could be added to that list seems infinite. Search Matt Nagy’s name; you’ll see.
It isn’t uncommon for fans to overreact after an embarrassing loss and to call for the coach’s head as proper punishment. But in this case, the criticism and calls for Nagy to be ousted have a very strong underlying reason: the Bears can’t risk damaging Fields, their most prized player and arguably the most important draft pick in team history.
Chicago is anxious right now. And it’s not the kind of nervous excitement Bears fans were feeling when they woke up on Sunday morning. Instead, it’s a combination of fear and worry. It’s fear and worry that Fields will be ruined by Nagy, whose record of performance confirms he’s incapable of being Sean McVay, or even a deeply discounted version of McVay, like the pre-printed Super Bowl victory shirts of the eventual loser that get distributed as free handouts.
Nagy’s mismanagement of Fields’ debut may have pushed him beyond the point of no return with Bears fans and football media. Whether general manager Ryan Pace is there too remains to be seen.