Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy is an easy guy to cheer for. Always the optimist, he does his best to offer a positive spin on even the most obvious of negative moments. Focusing on solutions over problems, Nagy’s been known to heap praise on the sometimes undeserving. For all of his flaws, Nagy is a bonafide rah-rah culture-builder.
The problem for the embattled fourth-year head coach, however, is that the results his team has produced on the field during his tenure on the sideline have his future very much in doubt, especially after the drubbing the Bears took in Week 7 when they lost 38-3 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Still, Nagy believes in his squad. He said as much on Monday when he met with reporters over Zoom, which was required because of his positive COVID-19 test.
“The last couple of days with our team, we’ve become really close,” Nagy said. “For us to become as close as we have the last 24-48 hours, I just trust and believe in them. And they’ve done it before. Our guys have rebounded before and I just know from our discussion in [the locker room] and where we’re at right now as fighters and people and teammates.”
Sure, the Bears have been here before, but that isn’t exactly a resume item for a head coach to hang his hat on. In 2020, the Bears got off to a smoke-and-mirrors 5-1 start only to lose six straight and back into the playoffs as the NFC’s final wild-card team at 8-8. In 2019, the Bears endured a four-game losing streak (after starting the season 3-1) to rebound and finish the year, again, 8-8.
“It comes down to us doing it,” Nagy said. “We have to perform and put points on the board so we can win games—that’s our No. 1 focus right now is being able to understand, ‘Yeah, we can talk about an identity and trying to do certain things and run certain plays … We need to score a lot more points so we can win.”
All Chicago’s proven over the last two seasons is that they can snap losing streaks with just enough time to salvage a .500 record. Now seven games into 2021, the Bears are 19-20 under Nagy since 2019, a winning percentage that feels like a fair assessment of his tenure so far. It’s a winning percentage reflective of an offense that’s failed to produce a 200-yard passer after these seven games, which is the first offense to manage such a feat since the Tennessee Titans did it back in 2008.
The Bears’ offensive stats in 2021 are, well, offensive. They have the second-fewest passing yards in the NFL, have just three touchdown passes—the lowest number in the league right now—and just 12 passing plays that have gone for more than 20 yards (the second-fewest in the NFL). And let’s not forget that Bears quarterbacks have been sacked 26 times, a total that ranks first in the league (and that’s not the kind of first place you want to be in). Worst of all, the Bears have just 11 offensive touchdowns in 2021. That’s the same number as the Houston Texans and only two more than the New York Jets.
These putrid statistics beg the question: what has Nagy seen from his team to create such unwavering belief? At some point, sincerity is replaced by coach-speak, and with the Bears reeling from an embarrassing defeat at the hands of Tom Brady, Nagy appears to be grasping at cliches meant to fill his hollow message.
Nagy and the rest of the Bears have a chance to ‘get right’ in Week 8 against the also-struggling San Francisco 49ers. Still, the situation is so bad in Chicago that the Jimmy Garoppolo-led 49ers are likely to be sizable favorites on Halloween.
Hopefully, Nagy is fully recovered from COVID-19 and cleared to coach the game, but the reprieve he’s likely to get from the media and fans while he’s away from the facility this week will come to an abrupt end if his offense is more trick than treat next Sunday.
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