Matt Nagy has Halas Hall support — until he doesn’t
Nagy is on the hot seat with the Bears mired in a six-game losing streak. He’s unlikely to know how much support he really has until this season is over.
Bears coach Matt Nagy said that yes, he believes he still has the support of management at Halas Hall on Monday — a day after a stunning collapse in the final four minutes doomed the Bears to their sixth consecutive loss, 34-30 to the Lions at Soldier Field.
It was a perfunctory question in times like these — part of the hot-seat playbook that many of us know by heart because we’ve referred to it so often at Halas Hall in recent years. This is the fourth time in the last nine seasons the fate of the Bears’ head coach has been in serious peril. And Nagy’s response was even more predictable.
“Yeah, I do,” he said. “And just knowing the type of team and players and person that I am and that we are and the building that we have with Ryan [Pace] and with our players, we totally understand where things are at, and the frustration, understanding it.
“But I think that’s where just communicating as to where we’re at, what we have in front of us and how we need to finish — that’s the only thing we can do. That’s exactly what our job is and that’s why we’re here right now to do it. So we need to do it.”
The reality is that every coach at Halas Hall has the support of management until he doesn’t. Even Marc Trestman, in the midst of a dysfunctional free fall in the 2014 season, felt he had the support of management.
“It’s been tremendously supportive, during the good weeks and bad weeks,” Trestman said after a 41-28 loss to the Cowboys in December at Soldier Field dropped the Bears to 5-8 in his second season. “And it’s been extremely consistent by everybody here.”
A little more than three weeks later, both Trestman and general manager Phil Emery were gone. That’s a pretty quick erosion of support.
For the record, the Bears (5-7) aren’t dead yet. In fact, if they win their final four games, they have a good chance of making the playoffs in the NFC at 9-7. And with the team they had in September, that wouldn’t be a huge mountain to climb — the Texans (4-8) at Soldier Field, the Vikings (6-6) at U.S. Bank Stadium, the Jaguars (1-11) at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville and the Packers (9-3) at Soldier Field.
But this team is headed in the wrong direction. Not only with six consecutive losses, but each loss seemingly worse than the previous one. The players are desperately trying to support a coach they respect and admire, yet they have crumbled in back-to-back losses to the Packers (41-25) and Lions like a team trying to get their coach fired. It doesn’t make sense.
But that’s how helpless this situation appears, even with playoff hopes technically alive. From the coaching staff on down, the Bears have reached the point where the harder they try, the worse things get. The players’ support of Nagy is admirable, but their performance is damning. Nagy’s best suit was getting his players to play for him. But now he’s like a jockey heading into the stretch with no horse left. It’s too late to go to the whip.
So now we’re well into an awkward but familiar dance, which Nagy so far has handled gracefully. Remember when John Fox was on the very same hot seat?
“Frankly, I don’t give a rip,” Fox snapped when asked about his job status after a 31-3 loss to the Eagles in Week 12 of the 2017 season. “That’s not why I do this. Whatever happens, the things I control I will work to control.”
It was too late for Fox by then. Is it too late for Nagy? Whatever support he feels he has is a non-factor. More than likely, he’ll know how much support he actually has — or doesn’t have — the first week in January.