Matt Nagy inches toward exit with ‘personal pride’ comment, rebuke of Bears’ defense
In the surest sign yet that the Bears’ head coach is out of answers, he called for players to “do more” and ripped into the defense that has kept him employed.
Matt Nagy has a bad habit of making everything worse for the Bears.
He did it again Monday, about 12 hours after it seemed like the Bears couldn’t sink lower than they did in a blowout loss at Lambeau Field by delivering 20 minutes of straight-up bluster about “personal pride” and the Bears needing to “wake our tails up,” as though those were the real problems.
It was a speech that would’ve fit nicely in a high school football movie.
“All these guys, they are studying, they’re working hard, they’re practicing,” Nagy said when challenged to explain his “personal pride” line. “But the guys — if you’re catching 10 balls after practice, go catch 20. If you’re a guy that’s watching three hours of video in one night, go watch four. If you’re not getting enough sleep, then get more sleep.
“That’s for everybody, so I’m not insinuating by any means that they're not doing it. I’m just saying do more.”
Do more. But also rest more. Just somehow, inexplicably, become better.
It was the surest sign yet that Nagy is completely out of answers.
And it got worse.
Nagy went after his defense for a brutal start against the Packers and an overall dismal evening in which it allowed 41 points — its most since 2016 — and never so much as breathed on Aaron Rodgers. It was accurate and it echoed what star linebacker Khalil Mack expressed Sunday, but it showed a staggering dearth of self-awareness.
That defense has kept Nagy employed. He has won an unbelievable seven games in which his team scored 20 or fewer points, the most in the NFL during his time as coach.
The offense under Nagy has been so inept that it demands the defense to be near-perfect every week. His side of the ball — Nagy has run the offense while allowing defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano autonomy as essentially the head coach of the defense — continually makes that job harder as the second-worst third-down team in the NFL.
And that defense, which clearly has no shortage of “personal pride,” has kept its collective mouth shut while Nagy’s impotent offense has failed them.
This would’ve been a smart time for Nagy to let it go rather than begin his “soul searching” by blasting the defense for a poor opening possession that led to what apparently felt like an insurmountable 6-0 deficit in the first quarter and eventually mushroomed to a 27-3 Packers lead before halftime.
“That’s not who we are as a defense,” Nagy said. “That can’t happen. And our defensive guys know that. You have to be able to shut them down and not allow 16 first downs in 36 plays, 5 of 6 on third downs and three touchdown drives.
“They need to understand where we’re coming from with that and how we feed off of them as a defense. They’ve done a hell of a job all year long, but yesterday was not where we need to be.”
True. But are you sure you want to go there?
“See, here’s what you’ve got to understand: These guys know how much I have their backs as players,” Nagy said. “This is not news to them. They know how they played. They get it.
“This isn’t a blame game. But what I’m saying is that our defense understands and they know how significant and important they are to this team. And so ...”
Just stop. This is not a prudent path.
Nagy went on to clarify he didn’t intend to single out any player or the defense at large, but he also used the deficit as an excuse because Trubisky had to play “a drop-back game” the whole night, which severely limits the play-calling. Again, those are verifiable facts, but it’s a bad look.
Nagy has danced around the truth at times on injuries and quarterback play, but he evidently deemed this the right time to let it fly about his defense.
Here’s some truth about Nagy’s offense: It ranks in the bottom third of the league in every important statistic over the entirety of his tenure. It lags substantially behind Marc Trestman’s and is hit-and-miss when it comes to outperforming the dreary output under John Fox.
How does any coach who got hired on the basis of his offensive brilliance keep his job with those numbers?
The answer: With an elite defense to cover for him.
And Nagy should remember that as the season, and likely his time as head coach, plods to the end.