George McCaskey to Bears: Report of Matt Nagy’s pending firing untrue
In a team meeting Wednesday, Bears chairman George McCaskey told players and coaches that the report of Matt Nagy’s pending firing was not true, two sources confirmed to the Sun-Times.
DETROIT — In January, Bears chairman George McCaskey sat in front of his computer and, speaking via livestream, laid out an argument for Matt Nagy to stay on as coach.
On Wednesday, in a Bears team meeting, he again threw his support behind Nagy — at least for the near term. Speaking to players and coaches at Halas Hall before the team left for Detroit, McCaskey said the report Tuesday that Nagy would be fired Friday was incorrect, two sources confirmed to the Chicago Sun-Times.
His declaration came 24 hours after a one-source report from a Patch.com reporter with closer ties to the mayor’s office than the McCaskeys said Nagy had already been told he’d be fired Friday. The report said Nagy’s fate was sealed, regardless of whether the Bears beat the Lions (0-9-1) on Thanksgiving.
The Bears did not refute the report Tuesday — publicly or privately — and left Nagy to answer questions about his future. Nagy said midday Tuesday that he hadn’t even had a conversation with his bosses during the week, much less was told, as the story claimed, that he would be fired. Telling a coach he would be fired in five days — and letting him take the field in between — would have been highly unusual in the NFL.
The Bears have never fired a coach midseason. It’s unclear whether they will this year, even if they don’t this week. Barring one of the most dramatic turnarounds in team history, Nagy’s firing might be only a matter of time — be it Jan. 10 or sooner. If it’s the latter, the Bears have a new NFL rule on their side: Starting this year, teams can interview assistant coaches for head-coaching positions during the last two weeks of the regular season.
More than anyone inside Halas Hall, Nagy needs a win against the winless Lions on Thursday at Ford Field. The Bears have lost five consecutive games, the last two on defensive meltdowns in the final minute. Fans chanted “Fire Nagy!” at the end of Sunday’s game, a loss to Ravens backup quarterback Tyler Huntley.
A similar losing streak brought McCaskey to Nagy’s defense in January. Before he answered questions from reporters on Zoom, McCaskey gave an opening statement to try to defend a decision he knew was unpopular: He would keep Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace for another year.
“I was impressed with both of them this past season, especially during the six-game losing streak,” he said. “The fact that our players never gave up is a tribute to the players. It is also indicative of the type of players that Ryan acquires and to the players’ regard for Matt as their head coach.”
Bears fans rolled their eyes at the dysfunctional thinking inside Halas Hall. McCaskey gave Pace and Nagy credit for losing six straight games — and not seven.
On Thursday, they could reach six again — the Bears are staring down a second six-game losing streak in the last 20 regular-season games.
Last season, the Bears went 56 days without winning a game — six games plus a bye. In 2019, they went 42 days between victories — four game weeks plus a bye.
Nagy and Pace are the common denominators in the three skids, which span five quarterbacks — Chase Daniel, Mitch Trubisky, Nick Foles, Justin Fields and Thursday’s starter, Andy Dalton — and two different play-callers on each side of the ball.
The Patriots, whom NFL teams have compared themselves to for a generation, have had one four-game losing streak since 2003. The Packers, to whom the Bears compare themselves every day of the year, have lost four in a row once since 2014.
Frustration has set in. Earlier this week, cornerback Jaylon Johnson was asked if any players spoke up in the minutes after the loss to the Ravens.
“Honestly, how many games have we lost in a row?” he said. “Yeah, there’s nothing to talk about. We aren’t going to beat a dead horse. Like I said, we are all men. Coming in here and saying, ‘We have to figure out a way’ — to me it’s BS. Like, we aren’t going to keep talking. We have to find ways to win. We just have to get it done. Whatever it is. . . . We’ve had five weeks of rah-rah speeches. I don’t think that talking is anything we need to be doing.”
The Bears, though, hope McCaskey’s words have tamped down the tempest, even if it was a day too late.
Jason Lieser contributed to this report.