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NFL Draft

How Much Blame Does Matt Nagy Deserve For Broken Bears Offense?

  • The Draft Network
  • November 9, 2020
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Back in 2018, the Chicago Bears put the rest of the NFL on notice. They started the season 3-3, but went on to rattle off nine victories in their last 10 games, with that lone loss coming in overtime. It was Matt Nagy’s first year as head coach, and with Vic Fangio as his defensive coordinator leading one of the best defenses in the NFL, Nagy was able to help quarterback Mitchell Trubisky command his offense with a fantastic sophomore season to the tune of a 12-4 record.

It looked like all the pieces were coming together, and all the reasons why the Bears hired Nagy were coming to fruition.

Fast forward to the present day and the Bears are in a much different place. At 5-4 they’re still an above-.500 team, as they were then, but with Fangio gone, the defense isn’t as good as it was back in 2018. However, even with their new defensive coordinator, it’s not the defense that is holding them back.

The real problem over the last two years has come from the offensive side of the football. After a solid 2018 season, Trubisky has regressed to the point where the Bears went out and acquired veteran quarterback Nick Foles to bolster the competition in the room—and as we know now that competition ended up pushing Trubisky out of a starting spot.

But even after the switch at quarterback, things still have not been as good as they need to be for the Bears on offense. As of right now, they are in the bottom half of the league in DVOA, just as they were last year. For many Monday mornings, the focus has been on the woes of the Bears’ quarterback position. With offensive weapons like Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, Cordarelle Patterson, Darnell Mooney, and others, the Bears’ offense should not look as difficult as it does each week. Since they have the weapons, it must be the quarterback, right?

Where I believe the answer to that is still yes, as this season goes on, it appears the Bears don’t just have a quarterback problem. They also have a Matt Nagy problem.

Following the Bears’ 24-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans, a game that really wasn’t as close as the final score indicated, Nagy said simply “I’ve got to coach better.” And he’s right.

Talent is the most important ingredient to the recipe when it comes to offensive success. I don’t want that to get lost in the breakdown of Nagy’s tenure and situation. With quarterback options like Trubisky and Foles, one could argue the talent has never been there the way you’d like before you can really judge a coach. But part of that, too, is on Nagy.

Nagy has been in Chicago for 41 games now and the offense looks as out of sync as ever. That’s a problem because the entire reason why Nagy was sought by Chicago was due to his extensive offensive background, and how his history of learning under Andy Reid (one of the greatest and most creative offensive minds in NFL history), first with the Philadelphia Eagles, then with the Kansas City Chiefs, made him a potential candidate for us to talk about Nagy like we currently do with Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan.

But we don’t.

Now, Nagy doesn’t have a Patrick Mahomes like Reid does. Nagy was hired the season after the Bears traded the No. 3 pick, a third-rounder (No. 67), a fourth-rounder (No. 111), and a 2018 third-round pick (No. 70) just to move up one spot from No. 3 to No. 2 in order to draft Trubisky. In that same draft were Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, both, of course, picked after the Bears made their selection of Trubisky. 

Draft misses happen all the time. It’s not an exact science, and who knows if Mahomes would have been what he is today if he would have been drafted to Chicago with Nagy coming in a year later instead of to Kansas City with Reid. But Chicago's issues go beyond talent.

As stated before, Nagy was brought in to bring creativity and a consistent flow to the offensive game plan. Right now, they’d settle for just competent. Nagy seems to be eager to get to his creative plays, but he’s failing to build the meat and cheese of the offense needed to make those kinds of plays effective. Under Nagy, Tarik Cohen’s usage and success regressed. The same can be said with Patterson versus what he did with the Patriots. And for as much as people like to brush off the necessity of a run game, it’s important to have as a baseline, and right now Chicago’s No. 29 rank in DVOA is even worse than the No. 27 ranking they had last season. I mean, for goodness sake, at halftime of the Titans game, the leading rusher on the team was linebacker Barkevious Mingo with the 11 yards he picked up on a fake punt.

The Bears have no strength. They don’t have an aspect of their offense to lean on. They don’t know what they are—and even with less than ideal talent, that is on Nagy. The right offensive minds can see the roster they have in front of them and cater their game plans to what they do best. It’s what Matt Rhule and Joe Brady are doing in Carolina week in and week out with a depth chart many predicted to yield one of the worst records in the league. Here they are each week taking top teams down to the wire. Meanwhile, Nagy and his crew are struggling to keep games within striking distance in the second half. That’s a problem three years in. 

I don’t know how you fix a broken coach because more often than not, when a coach is in his own head as much as it seems like Nagy is, the end result isn’t them figuring it out. It’s them cleaning out their office.

The Bears started this season 5-1. At that point, the loudest narrative coming out of Chicago was that winning is winning. But as each loss of their current three-game losing streak has come to pass, the smoke has cleared and the mirrors have broken.

It’s process over results; it always has been. And though Nagy’s results remain in his favor, if the process does not improve, he won’t survive to usher in the next quarterback era in the Windy City.

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