October 18, 2021


Hub Arkush: Matt Nagy is his own worst enemy

Can somebody please explain it to me?

Matt Nagy absolutely still has a chance to save his job, get back to the playoffs, win playoff games and have a long, successful and prosperous career as the Bears head coach if he can just get Matt Nagy off his back.

It is starting to get a bit mind numbing how often the man chooses to be his own worst enemy.

Nagy absolutely had to know when he addressed the media Wednesday at Halas Hall that there were two subjects he had to deal with.

On the first, who his starting quarterback will be Sunday against the Lions, he chose to plead no contest. Although it really didn’t make things any worse, it certainly won’t help.

But quite frankly, I agree with how he handled it.

As to the other question, who will be calling plays, for the most part his answer was roughly, “I’ve worked it out with my people, and it’s for us to know, and you to find out, and I’m not going to tell you.”

What? Why not?

At a time when he desperately needs to cement trust and belief inside the locker room and among his fan base, and do anything and everything possible to calm the storm, he’s chosen the one answer guaranteed to fan the flames of discontent around him and fertilize the pressure and distractions roiling around his staff and players.

His QB stance is reasonable because as of Wednesday, with the health of both Andy Dalton and Justin Fields in question, he may not even have a choice as to who to go with Sunday, and now he won’t have to choose until after practice Friday.

There also is nothing wrong with keeping the Lions guessing until they’re done practicing for the week if you can do it inside the rules, and he can.

But not revealing who will call plays?

Visiting with center Sam Mustipher on Tuesday, the center told me this about how aware players are of what’s going on outside the building.

“Any player who says they don’t hear anything, they’re lying,” Mustipher said. “We’re in one of the biggest media markets in the world. You guys are all great writers, great media members. You do your jobs at a very high level.”

What does Nagy think his guys are going to have to listen to now after he told that fan base, the great majority of whose biggest complaint and concern is his play-calling, that they don’t need to know, aren’t entitled to or both?

Could he possibly have elevated the distractions more?

Even if you disagree with my reasoning, can anyone think of a single positive or benefit that can come to anyone from taking that path?

When asked why he made an announcement on the same subject a year ago and why he wouldn’t say this time around, Nagy offered a 237-word answer that didn’t even approach the topic. Here’s a taste.

“Again, just all of that, without, I hope you all can understand from our perspective, from the Chicago Bears’ perspective, not just play-calling but whether it’s, the starter, nonstarter, this guy’s hurt that guy’s hurt, through the rules, all of that there’s communication you have on the back end, but then there’s also the ability for us to understand why we don’t get into some of the answers that you’re asking right now.

“That said, whatever is best for this team is what we’re going to do.”

So I will ask the question again, how is it possibly best for the team? What possible benefit can there be from refusing to say whether he’s taking responsibility for the play-calling or handing it off?

How has everyone reacted to being told they’re not entitled to know when his contract expires?

Is it fair to say this is clearly more important?

While it makes me less of a journalist – you know, no cheering in the press box – I can’t help liking a lot of other things about Nagy, and I keep pulling for him and trying to find the positives because his success would be what’s best for everybody.

But when he continues fairly consistently to take ridiculous positions like this, how much hope is really left?

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush is a Bears/NFL Insider for Shaw Media