Let’s take a trip down memory lane.
When the Chicago Bears lost in the first round of the 2020 NFL Playoffs, many questions were left unanswered. Will the Bears move on from Mitchell Trubisky? Is Ryan Pace on the chopping block? How hot is Matt Nagy’s seat? How much longer will Ted Phillips be in power? Will the team rebuild or reload?
For the most part, we received answers to these questions. After a seemingly endless media silence at Halas Hall, the same leadership structure we’ve seen the past four years once again met the media, making it all but official that their jobs were safe.
The only question left unanswered was the dilemma the team was left with at quarterback. After disappointing seasons from both Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles, the team was (once again) ready to enter the market for a franchise quarterback. With Coach Nagy and the majority of his offensive staff returning for 2021, the team was quick to sign and anoint a new starting quarterback. After much ‘collaboration’, the choice was former Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton.
Another Nagy Guy?
It was immediately announced that not only would Andy Dalton be brought in on a sizeable one-year deal, but he would also be named the team’s starting quarterback before taking a single snap with the team. Not only was the media flabbergasted, but the fan base was left in a confused state of affairs. A time of optimism was ruined, as it felt like Matt Nagy was once again trying to find a veteran quarterback capable of running his offense instead of a young, exciting prospect who can have an offense built around him. It appeared that Nagy once again thought he was the smartest man in the room.
Then, well, you know.
A Bright Future, Right?
Fast forward to the present. Coach Nagy has been dragged by both the media and fan base after an embarrassing preseason performance against the Buffalo Bills. Not only did Nagy’s former quarterback Mitchell Trubisky light up his defense for 41 points on Saturday, but the Bears’ offense was unable to get into a rhythm themselves. Andy Dalton played the entire first half and produced six points. Justin Fields had to run for his life in the second half due to an alarming lack of offensive line depth. In a sport where the preseason isn’t seen as a great indicator of judgment, Nagy did almost everything in his power to disprove that theory on Saturday. It was a complete and utter failure on all fronts.
What made it worse is that it felt all too familiar. Since being hired in 2018, Nagy has yet to produce a complete product on offense. After a promising start in his first season, the offense has yet to be a consistent top-20 unit.
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For Nagy, it was easy to direct the blame on mediocre quarterback play instead of owning up to the issues himself. Many fans even believed this to be true, casting blame on Trubisky, Foles, and Chase Daniel in the past. That’s why it’s so concerning that Trubisky, armed with a new offensive system, looked like a completely different player on Saturday. It makes people wonder whether or not the ‘mediocre quarterback play’ was ever the issue. If that’s the case, Nagy’s seat went from warm to scalding hot.
Can Nagy Be Saved?
All of these criticisms aside, Matt Nagy still has an ace up his sleeve. While he just recently named Andy Dalton his starting quarterback for Week 1, many believe it could only be a temporary move.
If the season goes off the rails and the offense continues to be stagnant, Nagy could go to rookie quarterback Justin Fields to add a spark. As bad as Saturday’s game was, Fields proved in the first preseason game that he can effectively run the offense if it’s suited to his style. While it has to be taken with a grain of salt, rollouts and play-action were incredibly effective against the Miami Dolphins.
If Fields can deliver this type of performance this season in meaningful games and Nagy allows the offense to run through Fields’ strengths, the entire narrative changes. The fan base would be able to collectively embrace and praise Nagy for his ability to change his tune. Everyone wants this team to succeed and no fan enjoys the idea of a rebuild.
Whether or not Matt Nagy will get out of his own way, however, has yet to be seen.
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