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Bears fire coach Matt Nagy after 4 seasons as offensive futility persists

Nagy went 34-31, and his .523 winning percentage trails only Mike Ditka and Lovie Smith among Bears modern-era coaches.

Matt Nagy is 31-27 as head coach, including 19-23 over the last three seasons.
Matt Nagy is 31-27 as head coach, including 19-23 over the last three seasons.
David Richard/AP

The Bears fired coach Matt Nagy on Monday, one day after his fourth season ended with a 6-11 record and a 14-point loss to the division rival Vikings. It was hardly a surprise; Nagy had been asked regularly about his job status since before Thanksgiving.

Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace were both fired in an early morning housecleaning by Bears chairman George McCaskey, who will meet the media at 1 p.m.

Nagy went 34-31; his winning percentage of 52.3 trails only Mike Ditka and Lovie Smith among Bears modern-era coaches. Both those two went to the Super Bowl. The Bears lost in each of their two playoff appearances — most memorably in 2018, when Cody Parkey double-doinked the potential game-winner in the first round against the Eagles.

After going 12-4 that season, Nagy went 8-8 twice before entering a must-win year.

Nagy had the best record through 38 games (25-13) of any Bears coach since George Halas, and won Coach of the Year for his 2018 effort.

Since then, the offense has been abysmal. Nagy churned through quarterbacks — Mitch Trubisky, Chase Daniel, Nick Foles, Andy Dalton and rookie Justin Fields — but couldn’t make one above-average.

McCaskey admitted last year that bringing Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace back for another season was unpopular, but did it anyway. He said he needed to see “progress” from both men.

“I think all four of us will know whether there’s been sufficient improvement or sufficient progress to continue past 2021,” McCaskey said, including team president Ted Phillips in the discussion.

Three months after retaining Nagy and Pace, the Bears traded up to draft Fields No. 11 overall. They believe he is their quarterback of the future —- Nagy repeated it on Sunday.

Nothing in the organization is more important than his development, but there has been concern about Nagy mismanaging that from the start. The Bears had already signed veteran Dalton the month before, and Nagy’s plan was for him to be the starter all season while Fields learned from the bench.

Even as Fields excelled in offseason practices, Nagy refused to have an open competition and remained committed to Dalton. He was forced to start Fields in Week 3 after Dalton suffered a bone bruise in his knee, then relented and made him the permanent starter heading into the Week 5 game against the Raiders.

Fields’ starting debut against the Browns was such a disaster that Nagy ceded play calling to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor for the second consecutive season. He gave it up in Week 10 last season before taking it back in the offseason.

Nagy called plays for only part of the Chiefs’ 2017 season, but Pace hired him with hopes that he could pair Trubisky, the second overall pick a year earlier, with an innovative offensive mind.

Nagy turned out to be a strong leader — his “Be You” mantra and straightforward approach resonated with his players — but not an offensive guru. He couldn’t solve their quarterback problem, and the team moved on from Trubisky after last season.