The brutal fact of the matter is that NFL head coaches are hired to be fired. This is a results-driven business first and foremost, so patience is often lost. Ownership and management around the league are looking to immediately win, for any signs of progress. Every year, the appropriately coined "Black Monday" - the day after the final game of the regular season where underperforming head coaches that haven't met exceedingly high expectations are let go - has become a holiday for NFL fan-bases and organizations looking for scape-goats for failure. Another independent celebration during each holiday season.
That, of course, places an immense amount of pressure on newly-hired coaches trying to establish their culture, and offensive and defensive systems as the focus on the greater goal of sustained contention as well as winning championships can be lost in the shuffle. There's a reason teams such as the Patriots, Packers, and Steelers (not limited to quarterback play) succeed in comparison to everyone else: established and grounded continuity.
Enter 39-year-old first time head coach in Chicago's Matt Nagy, the energetic innovator who immediately won the Bears' first "game" of 2018 earlier this week, and who has now all but rounded out his coaching staff. While there is reasonable, palpable excitement surrounding his hire at Halas Hall that is definitely more than "he's not John Fox", without any tangible results on the field: the odds are stacked against him to succeed. At least according to history.
On Black Monday, coaching turnover typically translates to roughly 20-percent of the NFL landscape. That's plenty of teams hitting reboots at perhaps, an unreasonable level. This past New Year's Day, for example, between John Fox, Jim Caldwell, Jack Del Rio, Ben MacAdoo, Chuck Pagano; only Pagano and Caldwell coached with their respective teams in the Colts and Lions for four years or longer. Guys like Del Rio and MacAdoo - who both took the Raiders and Giants to impressive playoff debut 2016 seasons - didn't even finish two years.
Going back even further in the recent era, last year with retirements not considered, Jeff Fisher, Rex Ryan, Gus Bradley, Chip Kelly, and Mike McCoy were all relieved of coaching duties. Ryan was dismissed after two seasons by the Bills. While Kelly was actually fired after one season with the 49ers, as San Francisco fired two coaches after one year back-to-back following Jim Tomsula's ouster in 2015.
With 2015 and Tomsula mentioned, the revered Lovie Smith (in these parts), Mike Pettine, Ken Whisenhunt, Joe Philbin, and Kelly (fired in back-to-back years!) were all sent into NFL unemployment then. Each of Smith, Whisenhunt, Pettine, and Kelly didn't make it more than two seasons as head coaches with the Buccaneers, Titans, Browns, and Eagles, respectively.
We could go on and on. Head coaches are judged differently, and the over-arching standard is that patience is at an extreme premium for a league that could use more imagination in the blame game.
Yes, there are occasional examples of some organizations holding on too long to a coach when not receiving enough results (See: Fisher, Jeff and Fox, John). That speaks to more of a lack of ingenuity, however. Otherwise the league has proven time after time that main sideline roamers have an incredibly short leash to accomplish anything of substance.
We're still firmly in the honeymoon Nagy phase. Everything is peachy keen at Lake Forest as he and the Bears say all the right things at the right times. For now, he certainly seems like a bright offensive mind with the perfect amount of intelligence, relatability as an injection Chicago needs to take the next step. The expectations are sensible.
But what's going to happen when Chicago goes through it's first losing streak of this era? How will Nagy react, and in turn, have his team react? How will the young head coach respond to the immense overall pressure of steering the NFL's oldest organization?
I can assure you that another dismal losing Bears season won't be tolerated for long after four straight NFC North dwelling years. The hot seat has a way of warming up quickly when it's least expected.
Ultimately, those are the green Nagy's primary concerns with the Bears. And they're what will determine whether he joins the also-ran of Black Monday ranks soon, or whether he creates professional football relevancy unlike this city has enjoyed in decades.
What concerns do you have about Nagy with the Bears?
Lester Wiltfong Jr.: Honestly nothing.
I could go with, as a young head coach Nagy has to build the right staff around him, but I think that’s true of any head coach. We just watched a veteran head coach in Fox hire a relatively unproven offensive coordinator and then slap the handcuffs on him in his second season. The coaching staff are like the players: they have to produce when called upon. We won’t know the kind of leader Nagy is for awhile, and that’s what’s going to determine his fate, so why should I be concerned over something that I have no idea how it will play out?
I prefer to head into things with a positive mindset. Nagy has the respect of a very successful head coach. He beat out five other candidates to get the head coaching job, and I think the players on this Bears team are ready to be pretty good. The talent isn’t all the way there yet, but we’ll see a huge difference with a new offense.
Josh Sunderbruch: Nagy will be a first-time head coach who still needs to put together his staff. I have no idea how he is at in-game management. There’s also the "Peter Principle" to worry about. A lot could go wrong that is outside of Nagy’s control, including the handling of the roster.
Sam Householder: Inexperience.
Nagy's been a coach only slightly longer than I’ve been out of college. Granted, I feel I am pretty experienced in my chosen profession, but I’m not sure I'd be ready to be the head guy. I also hope that he truly can lead the entire Bears team and isn’t merely an offensive guy that can’t be a voice for the whole team. My last concern is that he only got the job because he loves Mitchell Trubisky. I don’t want a coaching bromance. This is low on the concern, but I want him to be the guy not The Guy That Loved Trubisky The Most.
Andrew Link: The main concern I had with Nagy was that we know scant little about his personality. As reports are starting to trickle out, now that the hire is official, this is starting to go away. Word is that Nagy left a lucrative career in real estate to join Andy Reid’s staff in Philadelphia while making little to no money. That speaks to his work ethic. A first time, and young head coach will always come with concerns about hiring a staff. Reid disciples have traditionally done quite well in this department however, so the downsides are a bit knit-picky.
Jeff Berckes: I live in a television market that carries every Chiefs game. I have watched more than my fair share of Kansas City football over the past few years and what has bothered me about this passing offense is that it either runs through Travis Kelce or it’s not working right. I like Kelce more than most, and maybe Adam Shaheen will be the next great NFL tight end, but it worries me that the offense breaks down when he’s unavailable or taken away.
Having said that, the Chiefs have consistently run the ball well and Nagy has all the tools in the box already to bring that kind of efficiency to Chicago. So the positives outweigh the negatives.
Jacob Infante: Nagy is going to have to assemble a great staff to get things up and running quickly. Sean McVay made two phenomenal hires for the Rams last year in making Matt LaFleur and Wade Phillips the offensive and defensive coordinator, respectively. Being a new head coach, Nagy has to surround himself with bright minds to make up for his relative inexperience.
Ken Mitchell: You always worry about a coach's ability to mesh the whole team together, to make the offense work with the defense, to integrate special teams properly, etc. Bad communications and hard feelings situations like Mike Ditka / Buddy Ryan had may have worked when the team had a class of Hall Of Fame level players, but they won’t work today. Organization and buy-in on both sides of the ball will be critical, and until somebody such as Nagy does it: we don’t know how it will go.
Steven Schweickert: Hopefully he attended the Reid School of Offense and not the Reid School of Clock Management.
Patti Curl: When I first heard Nagy proposed as a Bears’ head coach candidate, he wasn’t calling plays yet, and I was suspicious. I worried it was a peripheral association with a good offense driving his candidacy (I kind of lumped him in with the Eagles' Frank Reich). He won me over when he showed drastic improvement in results after taking over play-calling from one of the best offensive minds in the last month of the 2017 season.
My biggest remaining question is how Nagy will lead an entire staff and roster. The most encouraging thing I’ve heard about his leadership is Alex Smith talking about his promotion to offensive coordinator. He didn’t try to change his demeanor or be something he wasn’t. He continued to communicate in the same honest, direct manner and earned the respect of the Chiefs' players naturally.
Erik Duerrwaechter: Where I’m excited about Nagy's youth, that is also a concern. He’s relatively inexperienced compared to some of the other interviewed candidates. The question will be, “is he truly ready to be a head coach?” He’s never held that position before, at any level.
Kev H: I had no idea who Nagy was until this season.
WCG Contributors: Jeff Berckes; Patti Curl; Eric Christopher Duerrwaechter; Kev H;Sam Householder; Jacob Infante; Andrew Link; Ken Mitchell; Steven Schweickert;Jack Silverstein; EJ Snyder; Lester Wiltfong, Jr.; Robert Zeglinski; Like us onFacebook.