For second time this season, Bears coach Matt Nagy says he has not been fired
Nagy rebutted a report by CBS’ Boomer Esiason that he already has been informed that this will be his final game as Bears coach.
It’s always a bad sign when a coach repeatedly has to shoot down reports that he already has been secretly pre-fired. Those questions aren’t being asked in Green Bay, Kansas City or New England.
But Bears coach Matt Nagy seems used to it by now. Just another day at Halas Hall.
The topic resurfaced Wednesday, when former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason reported on his radio show that Nagy already had been informed that he will be fired after the season finale Sunday.
“Nagy has been told,” Esiason said on WFAN. “That came through a very, very tight and good source.”
The source wasn’t tight and good enough for Nagy, who rebutted Esiason’s claim by saying anyone who wants to report something should ask him.
“I can clear it up,” Nagy said. “I’m very honest and open with y’all, and that has not been told to me. . . . I haven’t been told anything.
“I’m a pretty good source to ask. . . . Anybody that has a report that is gonna talk to somebody who talked to somebody who talked to somebody — it’s probably best just to call me up and ask me. I promise you I’ll tell you the truth.”
Nagy, of course, is far from the only definitive source when it comes to his future. And his public denial, even while asserting that he’s being truthful, doesn’t exactly refute Esiason’s report.
It’s logical to assume Bears chairman George McCaskey already has made his decision. He probably made it weeks ago. Whether he took the step of informing Nagy is a separate issue.
The Bears are widely expected to fire Nagy after their game at the Vikings on Sunday, and it has grown into such a foregone conclusion that it has become a semi-regular topic at Nagy’s news conferences.
Nagy has been asked about his job security all season after McCaskey made the unpopular move a year ago of bringing him and general manager Ryan Pace back. Nagy and Pace described it as “an opportunity,” signaling they realized they were fortunate to escape being fired.
Those conversations between the media and Nagy originally centered on whether he’d make decisions out of self-preservation or act in the Bears’ long-term interests. For example, would he cling to veteran Andy Dalton as his starter or would he begin the difficult but necessary work of preparing rookie Justin Fields for a future that might not include him?
The tenor turned after an ugly loss to the Ravens on Nov. 21, when Nagy’s offense mustered 13 points and his defense faltered at the end against a backup quarterback. Along the way, Nagy mismanaged his timeouts and various other aspects of the game as his team fell to 3-7.
The infamous Patch.com report landed two days later and claimed Nagy had been informed that the Thanksgiving game against the Lions would be his final day as coach. The mountain of evidence against Nagy keeping his job was one reason that seemed plausible, and the organization exacerbated the problem by doing nothing to shoot the report down.
Since then, it has been a month and a half of excruciating awkwardness. The Bears created uncomfortable circumstances and prolonged them, presumably out of adherence to their odd policy of not firing a head coach during the season, but Nagy has handled the ordeal with uncommon patience.
He has never so much as bristled at a question about being fired, let alone ranted or raged. And while he couldn’t have enjoyed being prodded about it again Wednesday, he commended a reporter for hitting it head-on by asking him directly.
None of this makes Nagy a great coach or excuses his 22-26 record the last three seasons and the Bears scoring the ninth-fewest points in the NFL over his tenure, but he continues to navigate an unpleasant situation with dignity.