Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy said at halftime of Week 14’s game against the Green Bay Packers that he was ‘having fun’ after Chicago finished the first two quarters with a 27-21 lead. It was an unexpected score in a game that was supposed to be a blowout win for the Packers. And by the time the final whistle blew, it was.
Nagy was grossly outcoached by Matt LaFleur in the second half and was the main reason why the Bears lost the game, 45-30. Green Bay’s coaching staff did what good coaches do: they adjusted, they game planned in the locker room, and they scored 24 points.
In a way, Sunday night’s game felt very much like Nagy’s last stand as the Bears’ head coach. At the very least, it certainly seems like it was his last chance to win at Lambeau Field. And if this was the final game against Aaron Rodgers in the one-sided Bears-Packers rivalry, Nagy failed the entire organization and its fans.
The Bears’ first-half success, in large part, had nothing to do with Nagy anyway. Chicago’s special teams were fantastic and receiver/return man Jakeem Grant’s two touchdowns single-handedly kept the Bears in the game. Quarterback Justin Fields flashed some really encouraging moments, but they were less about play design and timely play calls and more about his natural ability as a football player. He found success as a passer and a runner, throwing two touchdowns and running for nearly 75 yards. And while it’s nice that the franchise’s most important player was productive, it’s time that the Bears had a coaching staff that can put him, and the rest of the team, in a position to actually win games.
Nagy’s Bears are now assured of finishing the 2021 season under .500. Sunday night’s loss was their ninth of the season, and with expectations much higher than that at the start of the year, there’s little reason for Chicago to delay the inevitable. It’s time to part ways with Nagy, even if it’d fly in the face of how the Bears handle coaching changes. They’ve never fired a coach in-season, but there’s a first time for everything, right?
Nagy looked confused during the final two quarters Sunday night. He looked lost. Meanwhile, LaFleur called plays like a surgeon. He sliced and diced the Bears’ defense on almost every second-half possession, all while Nagy was wiping his cold-weather nose leakage on his sleeve. LaFleur refused to kick on several fourth-and-short situations, while Nagy called on his punt team in the fourth quarter in a two-score game on fourth-and-inches. LaFleur played chess; Nagy played… Connect Four.
The biggest letdown Sunday night was the false hope the first half gave Bears fans. For the first time in… a while, Chicago looked like they were prepared to go toe-to-toe with Rodgers in a game that, had the Bears won, would’ve kept their very weak pulse alive as they head into Week 15’s Monday night matchup against the Minnesota Vikings. But when Nagy gleefully said the first half was a good ‘ole time, it was just a matter of time; a matter of time before the biggest weakness on this team—its coaches—blew another game. If there’s one thing that’s been consistent in Chicago of late, it’s that you can bet on Nagy being ill-equipped to close games out. He proved it again in Titletown.
NBC’s Cris Collinsworth said during the broadcast that Nagy is a nice guy; one of the nicest in the business. And that’s definitely true. But the NFL isn’t a nice-guy’s league. It isn’t a business that rewards good effort. Instead, it’s about results, and in the case of Nagy, it’s fair to say nice guys finish last.
If it wasn’t for the Detroit Lions, Nagy’s Bears would, in fact, finish last in the NFC North. Any wins Chicago manages to secure from now until their final game are great for the development of Fields and the other young players on the team, but the real goal extends beyond 2021. The team needs to pivot to 2022 and the years that follow, and there’s no place for Nagy in that vision.
The Bears gave Nagy every chance to establish that he deserves a second season with Fields. At this point, all Nagy’s managed to prove is that he’s a detriment to Fields’ development. And if the rest of this year is centered around developing Fields, Nagy simply can’t be a part of it any longer.
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