Trevor Lawrence is a rookie quarterback. And he’s struggling. But his coach isn’t going anywhere, barring those pesky “health issues” that seem to plague him at 12-month intervals and ultimately land him in a job that pays more money, usually from a university handing out taxpayer cash.
Zach Wilson is a rookie quarterback. And he’s struggling. But his coach isn’t going anywhere because this is his first year on the job and he’s overseeing a massive rebuild project.
Mac Jones is a rookie quarterback. And now he’s struggling too! (Welcome aboard, Mac!) But his is the greatest head coach in the history of the sport and he knows he has to endure the struggles of 2021 for the promise of 2022 and beyond.
Trey Lance is a rookie quarterback. And he’s playing in spurts, even while the starter struggles. But there’s no pressure on the head coach because he’s adored; even if some of us question the level of that adoration.
Justin Fields is a rookie quarterback. And Sunday, in Cleveland, he didn’t even have the opportunity to struggle because the performance of the offense around him was as bad as anything you can find in this league. Coaches. Linemen. Receivers. (Tight ends didn’t get on the field so they’re exempt.) Fields spent the afternoon running for his life. His coach? Let’s just take a few moments to look at the basics.
- 2018: Yards – 21st, Points – 9th (with a lot of help from the defense)
- 2019: Yards – 29th, Points – 29th
- 2020: Yards – 26th, Points – 22nd
- 2021, through three game: Yards – dead last, Points – one spot from dead last
Good offensive coaches don’t have games like Sunday in Cleveland. Good offensive coaches don’t go three (and now certainly four) seasons without cracking the top TWENTY in yards per game. Good offensive coaches find ways to produce offense despite whatever flaws their roster present. At this point there is simply no way to argue Matt Nagy is a good offensive coach. And if he’s not a good offensive coach, why is he the right individual to nurture the career of Justin Fields in Chicago? (Even if he is the one who drafted him.)
The focus of the 2021 season switched entirely to Nagy on Sunday. Fields is going to have the standard rookie campaign. Some highs. Many lows. Hopefully enough of the former to energize the organization and fans heading into next season. But Nagy now has an established resume of failure as an offensive architect and play caller. And if he is to somehow hold onto this job for another season, things would need to change dramatically over the next six weeks (before the bye) or 14 weeks (before the end of another .500 season or worse).
Will they? Possibly. But there’s no historical precedent to suggest it will happen. Nagy’s Sunday in Cleveland was so bad it amped up pressure to a level he certainly didn’t need with a rookie quarterback at the helm. (One could argue better handling of the situation all summer could have prevented a day like Sunday but one would be beating a dead horse.) Another Sunday like Cleveland and the calls for Nagy’s head will surely be unanimous.
And that he can’t survive.