Bears coach Matt Nagy’s rebuttal doesn’t quiet frenzy around potential firing
Regardless of whether Nagy or Patch.com has more credibility in this standoff, speculation about his job will continue the rest of the season. And Nagy doesn’t seem to have any guarantee that he’ll get to finish it.
Knowing that a report about his imminent firing had stirred the Chicago area into a frenzy Tuesday morning, Bears coach Matt Nagy walked into the media room at Halas Hall like it was any other day.
He arrived late, having allowed the story to rage unfettered for an extra 16 minutes, then unfolded a piece of paper as he sat at the microphone.
A prepared statement?
Nope. Just the injury report and the practice schedule.
“And now we’ve just got to get ready here for this game, get ready to rock ’n’ roll,” he concluded. “So with that, I’ll go ahead and open it up to any questions.”
There was a barrage of them. And Nagy’s responses did nothing to quell the storm that’s now swirling around him and the Bears as they prepare to visit the Lions on Thursday.
The Bears organization also did nothing, opting against releasing a definitive statement or even leaking a rebuttal to a recognizable media outlet. The front office was content, instead, to let Nagy swerve awkwardly through his live-streamed news conference.
Even weirder, the Bears let special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor face the inferno at his regularly scheduled media session an hour before that.
The spark was a report from Patch.com, a suburban news site that cited “a top source” as saying Nagy was informed Monday he’d be fired after the game Thursday.
“That is not accurate,” Nagy said, adding that he hadn’t had any discussions on the subject with Bears chairman George McCaskey, president Ted Phillips or general manager Ryan Pace.
Given Nagy’s history of dodgy answers, his denial isn’t enough to squash the story.
And given how dysfunctional and odd the Bears organization is, the scenario is just goofy enough to be possible: The Bears break from their 101-year tradition of letting a doomed head coach finish a season by pre-firing him four days in advance — and then they can’t even keep it a secret for the first 24 hours.
Regardless of whether Nagy or Patch.com has more credibility in this standoff, the speculation will continue — especially given the NFL’s new rule allowing teams to begin interviewing head coaching candidates in Week 17.
Nagy doesn’t seem to have received any guarantee he’ll finish the season. When asked about that directly, he attempted to shift the topic.
“My focus right now is on these players and on Detroit,” he said. “That’s it. My job as a head coach and a leader is to do that.
“The only thing that we can do is focus on the now and try to do everything we can. Thursday is going to be here quickly, and we have one objective, and that’s to win the game.”
It was a yes-or-no question.
“Again, it’s not something I’m focused [on],” Nagy said. “I respect the question, but my focus is not on that.”
Beyond Halas Hall, though, people are widely preoccupied by it. In fact, fans appear more ravenous for change than ever after Nagy dragged the Bears through a 16-13 loss to the Ravens on Sunday.
The exasperation has grown since Nagy’s dazzling debut in 2018, when the Bears went 12-4 and won the NFC North to secure their first playoff berth in eight years. In the three seasons since, he has gone 19-23, careening through a four-game losing streak in 2019 and a six-game plunge last season. The Bears are 3-7 and on a five-game slide heading into the Lions game.
Four seasons in, the Bears are still waiting for Nagy to deliver on his reputation as an offensive mastermind and a quarterback guru. They have scored the fourth-fewest points per game in the NFL this season, with the second-fewest yards per play.
Those are the reasons — along with various other debacles — why any report about Nagy getting fired is instantly received as plausible. His trail of missteps has led to him sitting at the podium two days before a game to fight off a rumor that he’s about to be sent out the door.