Matt Nagy is lauded for being a good leader and “CEO” as guys call it for the Chicago Bears. This is fair. There is no doubt his players love him and he keeps that locker room together. At the same time, the man was brought to this city for more than that. He was brought to win games and fix the offense. He did the former for a while but hasn’t lately. As for the latter? It’s only gotten worse since the day he arrived.
Yet hidden beneath the surface of all those arguments, he isn’t fulfilling the most pivotal tradition of all. He hasn’t beaten the Green Bay Packers. Make no mistake. Wins against the Packers matter a lot more to this franchise than any other team by a country mile. Those who have embraced the challenge of beating them have lasted the longest. Mike Ditka was 15-5 against them. Lovie Smith was 8-11 against them.
Nobody else has come remotely close to them in the Super Bowl era.
That includes Nagy. With a trip to Lambeau Field looming next week, the Bears head coach stands at 1-3 against that team up north. That record is bad enough but the ways they’ve lost some of those games is what makes it truly painful. Falling 24-23 after going up 17-0. Losing 10-3 at home. Posting over 400 yards but only 13 points in a 21-13 loss because of three turnovers.
Nagy has routinely looked unequal to the challenge of coaching a full 60-minute game against the Packers. He’s never really embraced the rivalry like Smith and Ditka did. He views them as just another opponent on the schedule. It doesn’t work that way. So how fitting is it that this team could end up being the one that puts him out of a job?
Matt Nagy doesn’t have excuses to lean on either
The other coaches in the NFC North haven’t had nearly the problems. Mike Zimmer has been around since 2014 and he has a respectable 6-6-1 mark against Green Bay. Even Matt Patricia, who many view as one of the worst head coaches in the league, is 2-3 against them. One can argue the Bears have had as good or better a roster than either of those teams in the past three years. Yet here they are. Still looking futile against a far more mortal Packers team the past few seasons.
If the Bears fall next Sunday, Matt Nagy will drop to 1-4 against them and Green Bay will have earned their 100th victory against Chicago. The McCaskey family has always taken this rivalry seriously. It has ended coaching tenures before. Ask Marc Trestman about that 55-14 debacle in 2014. Or Dick Jauron falling 34-21 in 2003 despite improving the team from 4-12 to 7-9 the previous year.
These games matter.
So here’s an interesting question. If the Bears somehow pull off a huge upset in this coming game, does that tip the scale back in Nagy’s direction? It is hard to deny. Such a victory will stop a huge team slide and get them back to a winning record overall. Not to mention throw a huge wrench into the Packers’ postseason plans for homefield advantage.
Suffice to say this upcoming contest could be Nagy’s final exam to determine whether he really should be a Bears head coach or not.