What happened Sunday at Soldier Field couldn’t have been worse from the perspective of Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy. Not only did his team lose, falling to 3-5 on the year, but quarterback Justin Fields had the best game of his rookie season by far. The game that Nagy just so happened to miss due to COVID-19. This feeds into the narrative that many already believe. That the head coach is more of a liability to this team than an asset.
When asked about Nagy’s absence, one would think Fields might say the team missed him. After all, it’s the head coach. Not having him on the sideline should be difficult for a team, right? The rookie quarterback didn’t seem to react that way. If anything he made it seem like there wasn’t much of a difference at all. Probably not the sort of reaction ownership wants or expects to hear about the head coach.
Fields didn’t throw Nagy under the bus.
At the same time, such an answer is hard to ignore. The head coach is supposed to feel more valuable to the success of a team than this. That the quarterback exclaimed he felt almost no difference in how the game unfolded without Nagy can’t be a great sign. The added fact that the QB played his best game the one week the head coach wasn’t there to voice his opinions on the game plan only adds fuel to the fire.
What exactly does the man bring to the table? People talk about his leadership and motivational skills. That is fine and all, but the head coach needs to do more than that in order to build a winning football team. Too often over the past few years, there is clear evidence of Nagy being thoroughly outcoached. Combine this with his lack of offensive success. There isn’t much justification to keep him.
Justin Fields is focused on getting better
What he has done this season cannot be understated. Lesser QBs might’ve already crumbled by now given what Fields has gone through. Instead, the rookie has showcased how tough and unflappable he truly is. Just look at how he responded to the two ugliest games of the season. He gets sacked nine times in Cleveland and follows it up with a dime-laden afternoon against Detroit.
Then after committing five turnovers against the Bucs in Tampa Bay, he makes all sorts of magic against San Francisco both throwing and running the ball.
Unfortunately, the situation around him isn’t good enough.
The defense is falling apart a little more each week. The offensive line is average at best and the receiving corps still suffers from issues both getting open and catching the football. Combine this with a head coach who mishandled his development from the beginning? This team needs a ton of work in order to maximize what this kid can do.
While the roster will probably take a lot of time to fix, the Bears can solve the problem at head coach much sooner. Firing Nagy midseason seems unlikely at this point, but the justification to keep him beyond 2021 is lower than ever.