Friday, July 1, 2022

Matt Nagy Doubled Down With Bold Justin Fields Statement


Matt Nagy had every chance to feel bitter about how things ended for him with the Chicago Bears. He’d helped the organization to its first division title in eight years. He made the playoffs twice with a quarterback he didn’t draft. Then when he finally gets one he wants in Justin Fields, the team fires him after one season. Sadly, that is the brutal nature of the NFL. If progress isn’t sensed for a long enough time, somebody will pay with their job.

Nagy no doubt wonders what he could’ve done differently. All former head coaches do. One thing he didn’t second-guess himself on was the evaluation of Fields. He was confident the kid was talented when the Bears managed to draft him last year. After spending a season with him, he became even more optimistic that Fields would be special given enough time. He explained as much to Kyle Brandt of Good Morning Football during a text exchange.

Brandt broke down the conversation on the Rich Eisen Show.

Clearly, Nagy believes other circumstances led to Fields struggling last season as he did. It had nothing to do with the young quarterback lacking capability. Beyond the obvious physical talent is a great mind for the game and an insatiable work ethic. Fields wants to be great and is willing to make whatever sacrifices are necessary to reach that goal. Look back through history, which is often what makes up the best quarterbacks.

The challenge for the Bears is obvious. They must surround him with better talent and provide him with better coaching. Those two things were lacking last season, and it showed. Yes, he made his own mistakes. He’ll have to own them, but it is at least clear he’s already in the process of fixing them. His footwork has changed, and he’s begun trying to speed up his throwing mechanics.

Matt Eberflus must finish what Matt Nagy started.

Many people aren’t sure if the new Bears head coach is up to the task. He’s been a defensive coach for 30 years. He has zero experience in how to handle the quarterback position. The good news there is he’s had some excellent mentors to guide him on that front. He worked with Frank Reich for four years in Indianapolis, a Super Bowl winner with Nick Foles in Philadelphia, and was a former backup quarterback himself. Jason Garrett in Dallas helped both Tony Romo and Dak Prescott into stars.

Eberflus’ mentor Gary Pinkel also did excellent work with Chase Daniel at Missouri. So the head coach understands the value of having a plan for a quarterback and having stability. From the moment he arrived in Chicago, Eberflus had a plan. He wanted the Shanahan outside-zone offense that continues to have so much success around the league. That was why he targeted Luke Getsy as his offensive coordinator. That was where Matt Nagy failed.

It was never clear what his plan was.

His statement was always to sit Fields for the season and let him prepare for 2022. He never bothered to consider the possibility Andy Dalton might get hurt. When it happened, it was clear that the head coach got caught with his pants down as day. Fields took a beating through his first several starts and ended the year out with an injury.

This time there is no confusion. The Bears intend to run the football well, take full advantage of his mobility, and arm off play action. If Nagy had done it more often last year, that might’ve saved his job.

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