As the New England Patriots prepare to play in their 79th Super Bowl of the Tom Brady and Bill Belichick era, they serve as the sport’s finest example of what the Bears – and every other organization – are trying to accomplish.
We can talk about Chuck Pagano, Khalil Mack, future first-round picks, draft steals and everything else, but what this era of Bears football becomes depends almost entirely on the quality of the head coach and the quarterback. And the first year got off to an adequate start for Matt Nagy and Mitch Trubisky.
The Bears were a top ten offense in both points per drive and DVOA until the QB was injured. Then they slid back. They struggled for most of the playoff game, but the quarterback made enough big plays to give them a chance to win.
Then Ray Finkle blew it.
Despite what Lt. Lois Einhorn did with those uprights, the Bears coach and QB gave us hope for the future. Hope that this thing could be special.
Young quarterbacks almost always struggle in their playoff debuts. Trubisky had the highest passer rating and the second most yards of any first or second-year QB in that situation since 2012. Those quarterbacks are just 3-12, but Trubisky was as close as he could get to adding another win.
Make no mistake, the Bears need Trubisky to be better. He missed too many open throws this year and made far too many bad decisions. His development will tell us a lot about Nagy because the two are essentially tied at the hip. Nagy has to continue to play to his quarterback’s strengths and, even if they reach the pinnacle, keep him there.
The other part of Nagy’s job, one with which we’ve seen plenty of coaches struggle, is handling change. That has started with replacing his defensive coordinator and hiring Pagano. Perhaps the former Colts head coach is the guy to improve upon the work of Vic Fangio. We’ll know soon enough. We’ll also know how well Nagy handles the big chair.
Because EVERYTHING has changed in New England.
The star defensive players who helped them win in the early 2000s are working on television and coaching the Titans. Kevin Faulk turned into Danny Woodhead into James White. Chandler Jones, traded. Brandin Cooks, traded. Rob Gronkowski wasn’t even on the field for their last Super Bowl win. It doesn’t matter. They have Brady and Belichick.
Maybe New England’s pairing is an extreme example, but the consistent winners are the teams who are set at head coach and quarterback. McCarthy/Rodgers. Brees/Payton. But both the coach and the quarterback have to hold up their end of the bargain. Peyton Manning won a lot of games with a handful of quality coaches, but even he couldn’t save Jim Mora.
The Bears will still likely have their ups and their downs, but if Nagy and Trubisky are the right guys for their respective jobs, there will be far more ups than downs. And if they’re perfect for each other, comparing them to their counterparts in New England might not be so crazy after all.