Hopefully Matt Nagy used the Bears’ bye week for more than just a little chillaxin’ around the house.
Nagy has stayed steady publicly throughout all of the self-induced turbulence over the last three seasons and has refused even the slightest engagement of questions about his job security. But he’s too smart to be so blissfully unaware of what’s at stake over the final eight games.
They could very well be Nagy’s final eight games as head coach. He has been in some bad spots over the last few seasons, but he has never had his back against the wall like this. It’s the difference between returning to the Bears in 2022 or spending that season as a senior offensive analyst back at the University of Delaware.
Nagy might think he already has been feeling the heat for the last few years, but it’s nothing compared to what he faces now. He has persisted through long losing streaks, survived a game plan so atrocious that it compelled him to state for the record “I’m not an idiot,” weathered a late collapse at home against the Lions and rationalized giving up play-calling twice.
He will not endure more of the same. Nagy’s job is absolutely on the line over the next two months.
Here’s hoping he saves it.
This is the time for Nagy to convince not only chairman George McCaskey that he’s the right man for this job, but all of us. Whenever he’s asked the leading question of whether he’s the one who can clean up this mess, he says yes. Well, prove it.
That’s not a challenge. It’s begging.
There’s no point in sitting through eight more games rooting against his progress under the assumption that his failures finally will trigger an overhaul at Halas Hall, which would include the hiring of the franchise’s fourth head coach in 10 years. The best thing for the Bears would be if Nagy proves he is their answer, because having the answer is better than endlessly searching for it.
When McCaskey brought back Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace, he did so with an apology to Bears fans and an intentionally vague mandate for them to show “progress.”
Let’s go with something a little more concrete if we’re evaluating whether someone should continue to run an NFL team: The Bears need to average 30 points per game the rest of the way, and rookie quarterback Justin Fields needs to be thriving in a scheme that fully maximizes his unique talent.
That’s an extraordinarily high bar, especially for a team that hasn’t scored 30 points in a game yet this season and a coach who has managed that modest feat just 11 times in 59 games. But the bar ought to be that high.
If Nagy and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor can do that, there will be reason to be excited about keeping them. Their record and whether they make the playoffs will be irrelevant.
And the past will be, too.
It won’t matter that Nagy couldn’t fix Mitch Trubisky or Nick Foles. It won’t matter that he mismanaged Fields’ development in the offseason or that it took Andy Dalton’s knee injury for Nagy to finally relent and make Fields the starter. And it won’t matter that it took him four years to finally get it right.
All that ugly history will fade into a footnote. All that matters now is where the Bears are headed, and Nagy has one more chance to show he can take them where they want to go.