When a regime undergoes a massive downfall like what just happened with the Chicago Bears, everybody knows one thing. The details behind how it came to be are often shocking and hard to fathom. When Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace were fired early this week, it felt like only a matter of time before those details emerged on how those two eventually found themselves unemployed. An in-depth look at all the mistakes they made and where things went wrong.
Sure enough, Adam Jahns and Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic have finally obliged. They published a huge column centered around George McCaskey and his run as team chairman, detailing all the missteps he’s made since taking over. One persistent issue that stands above the rest is his uncanny ability to saddle the next regime with leftovers from the previous one. Putting Lovie Smith on Phil Emery in 2012. Putting Jay Cutler on Marc Trestman in 2013 and then Ryan Pace in 2015. Last but certainly not least was saddling Nagy with Mitch Trubisky.
A decision that apparently many felt was doomed to fail from the start.
To some, though, it was evident that things weren’t working out with the quarterback and head coach. “Mitch never checked the boxes for Nagy from Day 1,” said one source.
Then came the Week 1 matchup against Green Bay. In the most anticipated regular-season Bears game in decades, Trubisky was 26-for-45 passing with one interception and no touchdowns. He was sacked five times. The Bears lost 10-3. “The Packers game was where you were like, ‘Oh shit, this is not working out,’” said one source.
To those who had followed Trubisky’s short career, it was apparent the match wasn’t working. The general sentiment? Nagy tried to make his quarterback something that he wasn’t. “Matt understands that public perception,” a former Bears player said. “If his quarterback isn’t doing what he wants, what he sees in his dreams, it’s going to be a tough dynamic, and it’s going to reflect poorly on him and his staff.”
This backs up other reports that revealed Nagy’s 2017 draft evaluation had Trubisky third on his list of options behind Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. It further solidifies the fact that he never took the Bears job because he believed in Trubisky. He took it because he wanted to be the head coach in Chicago and was willing to do everything he could to make it work. By the end of 2019 though, things had gotten really bad between the two.
After the 2019 season concluded, Trubisky prepared to meet with Nagy. They needed to have a conversation. How were they going to make this work? The quarterback prepared notes for the meeting. Nagy, though, didn’t make it — “He no-showed him,” a source said. Trubisky left his notes behind.
Classy. Well, Nagy wasn’t the only one who knew it wasn’t working.
As far back as September of that season, it was evident Trubisky too was growing restless in Nagy’s offense. He was seen on the sideline speaking in an animated fashion to the head coach during a game Monday night in Washington. So after the Bears traded for Nick Foles and the 2020 training camp became a competition, the young QB realized he had to speak up about the problems on offense. Unsurprisingly, he was ignored.
“(Trubisky would) be in the middle of camp and be like, ‘Guys, none of this stuff is working,’ or he’d be pointing out the problems with the offense, and he’d be getting this, ‘Oh, no, man. Don’t worry at all. It’ll all come together. Have faith. Trust the process,’” a source said. “And then it gets to the season and we have all those problems happen.”
Matt Nagy hiring was doomed to fail from the start
Not because he was completely unqualified though some might think so. It was because the Bears brass never did a good enough job of determining whether the coach was a 100% believer in Trubisky. Yes, the head coach is required to handle the entire team but the relationship with the quarterback is vital to team success in this era. Pace and McCaskey were swooned by Nagy’s personality. They didn’t stop to grill him on his thoughts about Trubisky. They just felt it’d all work out.
They were wrong. Matt Nagy was done with Trubisky by the end of 2018. He couldn’t do anything about it though. The kid had just led the team to a division title and thrown for 300 yards in a playoff game. If he broached the subject about a quarterback change then, Pace would’ve laughed him out of the building. So he stayed quiet and tried to make it work. It didn’t. Now all three men are unemployed with the next regime set to inherit yet another 1st round QB in Justin Fields.