This might not be the burning question on everyone’s mind, but with an NFL season likely to play out in the middle of a pandemic, the Chicago Bears and teams will likely have plans in place for such happenings.
First off, let me preface this by saying…the safety of all players and coaches is the most important part of every season. In the NFL, lawsuits about concussions and CTE have been at the forefront of the media for many years now. In 2020, a new health risk has captured the headlines. The NFL and the Chicago Bears will need to be ready for all possibilities.
For the Chicago Bears, at least so far, COVID-19 has seemingly been controlled very well. The same can be said for most of the NFL. With that said, it hard to determine confirmed cases of the deadly virus when teams are together and regularly tested.
Let’s get down to the question at hand. The Chicago Bears make it through training camp and the preseason unscathed, but then halfway through the season, Matt Nagy tests positive. Does the team have a plan in place? Who takes over as the interim Head Coach while he quarantines and recovers? How does the offense change? Does the offense change? These are all questions that important to have the answer to now, instead of scrambling for solutions later.
For my money, the most likely candidate. Pagano has head coaching experience in the NFL and has even enjoyed success at that level. In his time as Head Coach of the Indianapolis Colts (2012-2017), Pagano led the franchise to a 56-46 overall record and three playoff appearances – all coming in the first three seasons.
While it would end up going downhill in his three remaining seasons, Pagano has shown he can control a locker room and win games at the highest level. From a comfort-ability standpoint, this is likely the guy the front office would lean on.
Probably the second most likely candidate if the Chicago Bears needed a fill-in for a few weeks, Lazor doesn’t have the resume of a Pagano as a head coach. However, what he would provide is some continuity. Nagy and Lazor will be working closely together to develop offensive game plans, and there could be more of sense of normalcy if Lazor simply took over the day to day operations as well.
All the other coaching staff members would be free to resume their operations as if nothing changed, and because it would (probably) only be for a short period of time this could be the best option in the short term.
This one is sort of outside of the box candidate, but most fans will remember DeFilippo interviewing for the Chicago Bears vacant head coaching position a few years ago before Nagy was hired. It has been pretty well documented that Ryan Pace and the rest of the front office were high on him coming out of his interview.
Assuming that respect and admiration is still there, it is certainly possible this decision could be made. However, with two coordinators ahead of him in line and even Dave Ragone possibly ahead of him, this scenario is virtually unlikely.
Changes to the Offense?
I struggled with one for a while. Part me thinks that any time a new person is in charge, even in an interim role/part-time role, minor tweaks will happen. The other part of me thinks Nagy would still be heavily involved in the game plan, just remotely.
I ultimately decided that subtle changes would happen. While the offensive game plan would remain the same, it is human nature for different play-callers to call their own game. In a certain situation, Lazor might call a certain play, while Nagy would call something differently. It should also be noted that Lazor has more of a history to commit to the run, while fans have been frustrated with Nagy’s lack of commitment in that area – specifically last season.
All in all, I think we can all agree we hope this doesn’t happen. While a new perspective can be fun at times, the health of Nagy and the rest of the coaching staff and players is the most important thing. There have been some calling for Nagy to turn over the play-calling duties, but this is not the scenario in which we want that to happen. Here’s hoping to a full season with no COVID-19 hiccups from the Bears or any other team.