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Matt Nagy’s Bears future is now

The decision to start veteran right tackle Germain Ifedi over rookie Larry Borom isn’t the end of the world, but it’s an indication that Nagy isn’t going to play for a future that likely isn’t his.

Rookie offensive lineman Larry Borom (75) played 15 snaps in the Bears’ season opener against the Rams as a replacement for Jason Peters before suffering an ankle injury.
Bears rookie Larry Borom (75), a fifth-round draft pick from Missouri, has started six games this season.
Wade Payne/AP

If Bears fans were coaching the Bears, rookie Larry Borom probably would be starting at right tackle against the Seahawks on Sunday at Lumen Field. The Bears are 4-10, out of playoff contention and playing for pride — and next season.

Borom sure seems like the future at right tackle — or left tackle, pending Teven Jenkins’ developmental arc. The Bears considered Borom a bargain when they acquired him in the fifth round of the 2021 draft, rating him pretty close to Jenkins, who was taken 39th overall.

And Borom lived up to expectations in a six-game stint in place of injured starter Germain Ifedi. Why not let him continue to lay the foundation for what the Bears expect to be his home for the next decade?

That’s not going to happen — not yet, anyway — because the only future coach Matt Nagy is playing for is Sunday. So with three games to go and nothing to play for, the veteran Ifedi will start at right tackle against the Seahawks. Borom, who was activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday, will be Ifedi’s backup.

Asked if that was a tough call to make, Nagy punted.

“Larry has done a phenomenal job and played really well,” Nagy said. “I’m impressed with the way he’s been playing. Going into the season, he had some durability there a couple of times where he was back and then he was out, back and out. And then he was able to lock in and do some good things.”

It sure sounds like he should be starting then.

“And then unfortunately, the last couple weeks with him not being around [actually one week, on the reserve/COVID-19 list], Ifedi’s coming back and . . . Germain’s been playing well, too.”

So?

“So that dynamic of where those guys are at — every situation is a little different, but we like where Larry’s at and there’s dynamics to all of those, to all different parts of the [position] rooms of the team, so we discuss all that. But Larry’s done a great job.”

Borom indeed had a disjointed start to the season. He was impressive in one training-camp practice with the first team at left tackle but suffered a concussion. He returned and played off the bench against the Rams in the opener when Jason Peters suffered a quad injury. But Broom suffered a high ankle sprain after 15 plays and missed the next six weeks. When he returned in Week 8, Ifedi was on injured reserve with a knee injury, and Borom started against the 49ers at right tackle and seemed to win a job.

When Ifedi returned from his injury, Borom was on the reserve/COVID-19 list. But now they’re both healthy and eligible to play. It would be one thing if Borom had been sitting all season and Justin Fields’ health was at stake. But Borom has six starts under his belt. He already has made many of his rookie mistakes. Now might be a good time to let him learn from them.

Of course, it’s an awkward situation for Nagy — playing for a future that very likely is not his. But part of his job is “to do what’s best for the Chicago Bears.” And playing guys like Borom certainly fits that category.

Nagy said inexperienced players such as rookie cornerback Thomas Graham and rookie wide receiver Dazz Newsome will get more snaps. But Nagy acknowledged that’s out of necessity because of coronavirus absences. Graham started and Newsome played 48 snaps on offense against the Vikings, but only because the Bears were short-handed.

“Week by week, we’ll just kind of evaluate as the days go by,” Nagy said.

It’s not the end of the world if Borom doesn’t play the rest of the season. But the debate itself is symptomatic of the Bears’ plight: This season can’t end soon enough.