Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy might have saved his job in the Windy City by leading an 8-8 team to the playoffs last season.
Since falling to the New Orleans Saints in the wild card round last January, things have seemingly gone downhill for Nagy and his Bears.
Primarily, it’s been about the quarterback position. Equally as hot under his seat, general manager Ryan Pace failed to add a big-name signal caller in a trade. Chicago made a play for Russell Wilson. To no avail. The team was also in on Deshaun Watson before allegations of sexual misconduct were levied in his direction.
Instead, Chicago went out there and signed veteran journeyman Andy Dalton to a one-year contract — guaranteeing him the starting job immediately. Despite this, the Bears’ brass exhausted future capital to trade up for quarterback Justin Fields in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
With Dalton sidelined to a knee injury Week 3 against the Cleveland Browns, Fields got his first NFL start. To say it didn’t go too swimmingly would be an understatement. With Matt Nagy calling the shots on offense, the Ohio State product completed 6-of-20 passes for 68 yards while being sacked nine times.
The kid tallied one net passing yard as Chicago gained 47 total yards on 42 plays in a 26-6 loss. This is a thing that actually happened in the modern NFL. And it has us questioning Nagy’s standing in Chicago moving forward.
Adapt or die, the anti Matt Nagy
One might think a screen or two should have been in the cards Sunday with Chicago’s offensive line completely overmatched by the Browns’ defensive line. That did not happen. Running back David Montgomery was targeted just twice.
Most of this is not on Fields. He’s a rookie. He had a less-than-stellar matchup against what is a darn good Browns defense.
Instead of putting his quarterback in a position to succeed, Matt Nagy threw him into the fire without even adjusting his play book. That led to Fields being sacked eight times, including 4.5 times by Myles Garrett.
Even Chicago backup quarterback Nick Foles could be seen mouthing that this “offense isn’t working” to the aforementioned Dalton.
Justin Fields is the franchise, not Matt Nagy
It’s somewhat surprising that Chicago’s ownership group allowed Nagy and Pace to trade up for Fields this past spring. Ahead of the draft, reports suggested that the Bears didn’t want this undynamic duo to exhaust future capital when they might not be around long-term.
Said trade with the New York Giants included Chicago sending its first-round pick in 2022 and two mid-round selections further east. This is the clearest indication yet that Fields is the franchise. Chicago will either return to relevance with him leading the charge or continued to be mired in mediocrity.
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The backdrop here is a potential of Fields being ruined by Nagy and his archaic offense. It’s akin to disgraced former Miami Dolphins and New York Jets head coach Adam Gase. Remember how much Ryan Tannehill and Sam Darnold struggled under his watch? Now, look at how well they are playing with quality coaching.
In short, Matt Nagy could end up ruining Justin Fields. We saw that first-hand Sunday afternoon in Cleveland. It’s now time for the Bears to end this experiment and give someone else a chance to help Fields grow.
In the short term, that could include quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo taking over on an interim basis before Chicago casts a wide net to replace Nagy following the 2021 season.