Five observations from the Chicago Bears victory over the Jaguars
No. 1: The question of whether Nagy should stay or go, gets muddier with each Bears victory
It’s very hard to ignore two and a half years out of three of very bad decisions rooted in extreme stubbornness. Yet there is solid evidence that Matt Nagy is learning and growing as the Chicago Bears head coach.
A few weeks ago, seemingly on the edge of extinction, he gave up being the Chicago Bears offensive play-caller. In doing this he also succumbed to sticking with game planning that is built around his quarterback’s strengths. All this, ultimately, resulted in a scoring explosion by the Bears’ offense.
In their last four games, they have averaged 35 points. Given that this happens in the NFL, even though it was against weak defenses, this is not to be taken, lightly. Evidence the Chicago Bears should get some genuine credit for their recent offensive surge can start with comparing the Bears offense to the gold standard of high flying NFL offense’s the Kansas City Chiefs.
They have averaged 30.1 points per game over the entire season and in their last four games have averaged 26 points per game. The defensive rankings of the last four teams Mahomes faced are the Falcons at 28, the Dolphins at 21, the Broncos at 20 and the Saints at three. So we feel compelled, albeit reluctantly, to give some credit to Matt Nagy and the crew.
It turns out the high-flying offense Nagy had promised to bring to Chicago does exist. One minor detail, that offense was buried under Nagy’s shortcomings as a play-caller and his reluctance to tailor his game plans to his talent. Similarly, I have said about Mitch Trubisky that there is quarterback gold buried inside of him.
What is covering this up is his poor footwork, some slow decision making, and some brain farts under pressure. Shockingly enough to Mike Tirico, he had to admit that the Bears, currently, have the hottest offense in the NFL.
Another change by Nagy that was desperately needed, happened against the Jaguars. In this game, the Bears gave up their myopic short pass obsession as the way to start the third quarter. This change resulted in an explosion of three third-quarter touchdowns. Another sign of Nagy’s growth also happened in the third quarter. He made a shrewd call to go for it on a fourth and three versus punting or attempting a 53-yard field goal.
Presumably, he made this decision because he was more tuned into the flow of the game than in the past because he didn’t have his face buried in his playlist. This resulted in a clutch Allen Robinson catch to keep the chains moving and, ultimately, led to one of those three touchdowns.
If it was up to me I would still probably fire Nagy. However, I have to admit firing him is not the no-brainer it was a few weeks ago. The real litmus test for Matt Nagy will be how he coaches in week 17 against the Packers and coaches into the playoffs if the Chicago Bears are lucky enough to get there.
I wrote this before but it bears repeating (pun intended). If the Bears do keep Nagy, none other than George McCaskey should sit him down and tell him this: if you go away from emphasizing plays that play into Trubisky and other player’s strengths and the team goes into a losing streak, you will be fired before the 2021 season ends.
Whether McCaskey actually does intend to fire him or not after he gives Nagy this ultimatum, it would be good leadership from ownership to put their head coach on blast. Matt Nagy needs to have it drilled into his stubborn head by his superiors, that repeating failed, predictable dumb tactics on offense will surely earn him his departure from Chicago. It seems reasonable to expect that this strong-arming by Bears ownership could bring out the best in Nagy.