Coronavirus takes Matt Nagy out of his wheelhouse
The Bears’ head coach thrives on in-person communications — “It kills me that I’m not able to do that,” he said. But he’s confident his staff will fill the void. Special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor would be acting head coach Sunday against the 49ers if Nagy can’t be there.
Matt Nagy is day to day on multiple levels as coach of the Bears. But the most urgent one Wednesday was his status for Sunday’s game against the 49ers at Soldier Field after being put on the sidelines because of a positive test for the coronavirus.
Not surprisingly, he offered few details, other than revealing that special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor would be the acting head coach if Nagy is unable to attend Sunday.
“Just like when you go through protocol, they have a process, and that is what we work through day by day,” Nagy said in a Zoom news conference from an undisclosed location. “So I’m just following and listening to all the guidelines they tell me and give me.
“In the meantime, we have these contingency plans set, which we actually went through last year, so it’s helped in that regard.”
Nagy will conduct meetings with players and coaches via Zoom and watch practice through a tablet computer. He will have to test negative twice over a 48-hour span to be cleared to rejoin the team. He said he did not know the earliest he could be cleared.
“We’ve been able to meet together virtually on Zoom [and] it’s been a heck of a lot better than it was last year — I guess we’ve advanced in that process,” Nagy said. “[I] appreciate that from the guys and coaches, so we’re going to continue to roll and adapt through this process.
“This is why it’s very important when you have your staff that you believe in and you’ve gone through this, you’ve prepared. Just like when there’s an injury, it’s next man up . . . I have a lot of faith and trust in the players and coaches while I’m not there in person.”
Still, this can’t be easy for Nagy. He thrives on in-person and one-on-one communication. He can’t do that this week.
“One of my strengths is the relationships with the players and being able to connect with them and be there for them and support them,” Nagy said. “So it kills me that I’m not able to do that.
“But that’s life. And one of the biggest things as we go through what we’re going through right now — whether it’s as a team sitting at 3-4 or me personally being positive for COVID and how it affects my family, etc. — what I have to do, which is to my core, is stay positive. When you stay positive it makes things a lot easier. And it also helps others out. Whatever it is . . . I’m going to stay positive. And then we’ll see what happens.”
At least for one week, Nagy’s absence isn’t likely to affect much for the Bears.
“It hasn’t made that much of a difference, just because our meetings are all on Zoom,” quarterback Justin Fields said. “The first difference would be this week just him not being out at practice. Other than that, stuff has been pretty much the same.”
If Nagy misses the games, the Bears actually have tough acts to follow. When Browns coach Kevin Stefanski missed a wild-card playoff game against the Steelers because of the coronavirus last season, the Browns won 48-37 on the road. This season, Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury missed a road game against the Browns on Oct. 17, and the Cardinals won 37-14.
Nagy said he has studied those examples for tips on how to handle this week.
“They’ve done a really good job with that. You’ve got to credit them,” Nagy said of the Cardinals. “The biggest thing is that we continue to talk through this process and everyone over-communicates — we adapt, we stay positive and we do everything we can to get a win this weekend.”