UPDATE 11/21/21. There is no reason to recap Sunday’s train wreck loss to the undermanned Baltimore Ravens. This is over for Matt Nagy. Time to make it official. Waiting no longer makes sense.
This piece originally ran after the Tampa game.
Nate Tice, son of the the legendary Mike Tice and one of the better young NFL analysts got me through Monday with a Twitter thread.
damnit Justin stop holding onto the ball too long pic.twitter.com/jghpZ2RHGo
— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) October 25, 2021
Not having any desire to sit through Sunday’s debacle again, it was nice to see Tice confirm what I had believed in real time: that Justin Fields had zero chance to succeed in Tampa. This was Cleveland redux and the entirety of the blame falls onto the shoulders of the head coach. The game plan made no sense. The offense, now in fourth season, makes no sense. And we are now at that moment in the development of this young quarterback where the most important question has been answered. Matt Nagy is not now, and will never be, the right man to maximize the ability of Fields.
A source close to ownership texted me Monday morning that Halas Hall was “fed up” with the head coach. They should be. But being fed up is not enough. George McCaskey should fire Matt Nagy. Today, next week, on the bye, whenever. But Nagy shouldn’t make it to the end of the season. If only for the symbolism alone, a message to the fans that this simply isn’t good enough.
The reasons not to fire a coach in-season are well known and mostly fair. The Bears may get a leg-up on some homework when it comes to coaching prospects but there’s no reason they couldn’t do that homework now. (They can’t interview coaches until January.) And this coaching hire will be unique as it comes with a young quarterback. Every coach in the sport that likes Justin Fields will want a shot to be his head coach.
There’s also the personal factor. McCaskey likes Nagy. Embarrassing him with an in-season firing might be seen as simply unnecessary when the same decision can be made at season’s end and lumped in with half a dozen other firings.
Oh, and there’s also the question of the GM. If the Bears believe Nagy should be getting more out of this roster – and they do – they must believe the roster is not the main issue. If they don’t view Ryan Pace and Nagy as a package, would they keep Pace? Would Pace get to choose the next coach? Would Pace be the one actually firing Nagy? The Bears likely have to answer their Pace questions before moving on Nagy.
Nagy is the more pressing issue, however, because every game the Bears allow him to coach Fields is a wasted one for the kid’s development. Since the day the organization selected Fields, Nagy has done everything wrong. (This space was dedicated to those errors for months so I won’t rehash them now.) But since playing Fields, it has become obvious that Nagy can’t protect him, can’t design an offense for him, can’t utilize his strengths, can’t give him the kinds of opportunities to succeed that are essential for a rookie QB. So to quote one of the Bobs from Office Space, “So what is it that you’d say, you do here?”
Tremendous efforts from the defense won the team two difficult games against Cincinnati and Las Vegas. Their four losses, to four good teams, are by a combined 85 points. They failed to score a touchdown in two of them. That is non-competitive. The time to hope Nagy “finds it” has passed. The days of thinking “all he needed was a quarterback” are long gone. Nagy is not the guy at head coach and he will never be the guy.
The Bears may have the guy at quarterback. But they’ll never find out with Nagy on the sideline. It is time.