After four seasons in Lake Forest, the Chicago Bears have fired Matt Nagy following a disappointing 6-11 finish during the 2021 season, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter. On a related note, Schefter is also reporting that general manager Ryan Pace is out as well.
EDIT: It’s now official. The team has announced that both Pace and Nagy have been let go.
Nagy’s firing comes as no surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention. Ever since an inaugural 12-4 season in 2018 where Nagy won NFL Coach of the Year, the Bears have been on a steady downswing. Chicago managed to stay afloat at precisely .500 (16-16) in 2019 and 2020, but not without a fair share of holes pointing at more glaring issues. Those glaring issues eventually came to roost as the Bears cratered in 2021 and became one of the NFL’s worst teams.
Originally hired as an offensive guru to unlock the potential of former Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, Nagy never got his offense going. An endless avalanche of hitches, curls, wonky trick plays, and overwrought irregular rhythm meant the Bears never even managed to have a statistical top-half NFL offense under Nagy. Part of these failures was certainly a unit lacking talent in critical spots, particularly up front and under center. Still, many coaches have managed to do more with less of a cupboard than Nagy ever enjoyed from the Bears. The best coaches adapt to their players’ skill-sets, and Nagy never could.
Whether you believe his failures were born of a stubborn inflexible ego, he was flat-out overmatched or both; it doesn’t matter. Nagy’s time wearing a Bears visor has to come to an end for all parties.
The next coach the Bears hire will be their fourth in the approximate decade since firing Lovie Smith in 2012 and the seventh since the Packers first started Brett Favre. He will have the enviable task of coaching a bright player at quarterback like Justin Fields in an unenviable situation in Halas Hall seemingly hellbent on making every simple football task, even essential professionalism, as arduous and painstaking as possible. How he manages to thread that needle will determine whether the Bears are hiring their fifth head coach sometime later this decade or if he and Fields are working together sometime into the 2030s.
Make no mistake: His job will center around making the arguably best modern quarterback prospect the Bears have ever drafted into a superstar. Chicago’s abyss can always go deeper if he fails at this mission. Given the Bears’ propensity for getting in their own way, he will have to be quite the unprecedented, dynamic, and intelligent leader to do so.
As for Nagy, he finishes his coaching career in Chicago 34-31 in the regular season and 0-2 in the postseason. He began life with the Bears to a chorus of adoration from everyone in Halas Hall and a fanbase starved for a consistent winner. He ends it on one of the lowest of notes and what felt like a parade of boos and (justified) criticism for weeks on end.