In a season of shortcomings, one of coach Matt Nagy’s greatest successes has been fulfilling his goal of saying as little as possible anytime he answers a question. It often takes him many, many words to say nothing, but it’s still nothing.
He remained at the top of his game on that front this week despite being separated from the Bears after testing positive for the coronavirus. Nagy did his usual dodging of questions about injuries and talked in circles about problems with his offense without clarifying anything, but now he’s so committed to secrecy that he declined to answer the simplest question: Where are you?
“I’ve got a beautiful setup, but as you can probably understand, I’m not going to get into where I’m at,” he said Wednesday. “But I have a great setup.”
Normal answers would’ve included “my house” or “a hotel.” Instead, Nagy turned a relatively trivial throwaway question into yet another mini-circus, and Twitter ran wild with “Where’s Waldo?” jokes.
He has only gotten more enigmatic since. In his last news conference Friday, Nagy didn’t give any indication of how he’s feeling or offer any update on whether there’s a chance of him coaching the Bears on Sunday against the 49ers in a game that has enormous consequences for their season.
He sounded and looked good, but that’s far from a diagnosis.
No one is prying into Nagy’s private medical information gratuitously. It’s only in the interest of determining whether the Bears will go without their head coach for the first time since Vince Tobin filled in for Mike Ditka against the Buccaneers in 1988.
Nagy refused to say whether he has tested negative, which is the first box he needs to check.
He needs two negative tests (24 hours apart) by Sunday morning or the Bears will entrust the team to special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor as acting head coach.
Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, who has been calling plays for a month, will run the offense, and defensive coordinator Sean Desai will handle his side of the ball like he always does. Tabor would handle broader decisions such as timeout usage, replay challenges and whether to go for it on fourth downs.
And where would Nagy be watching the game in that scenario?
“If I end up not being there on Sunday, I’m not so sure yet other than just planning on definitely watching it,” he said. “I’m just not so sure as to what size TV or where. I’ll have to choose that on the day of the game.”
The non-answers are so over the top at this point that you have to wonder if he’s doing it merely to amuse himself and pass the time in quarantine.
Nagy also was asked twice this week about the short-term plan for outside linebacker Khalil Mack, who has been playing through a severely sprained left foot since Week 3 and might need an extended rest for it to heal.
Nagy said Wednesday the team was nearing a decision on whether to put him on injured reserve but portrayed it as up in the air two days later. If the Bears are going to do it, thus taking him out of at least the next three games, they need to finalize that by 3 p.m. Saturday. And it’s highly unlikely they and Mack are actually waiting until the last minute to decide.
But that increasingly has been Nagy’s approach ever since the losses started piling up. Being fun-loving and forthcoming in news conferences was a lot easier in 2018. He has been scrambling for three years to get the Bears back on track and save his job, and it has made him more guarded than ever.