LAKE FOREST — Life in the candy factory as the sports department in the journalism business is often known as more good than bad.
But these are the dark times.
If you have a heart, as many if not all in my sphere believe I do, discussing a painful end to another man’s future is never pleasant, particularly if it’s someone you like as I do Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy.
But as perhaps the greatest of all Bears, Walter Payton, once said, “Remember, tomorrow is promised to no one.”
Being a head coach in the NFL is a privilege and a responsibility and the few lucky enough to have these jobs are paid princely sums and honored with awards such as Coach of the Year.
But when that same man is missing his and his team’s goals and most egregiously appears to be going backwards, it is time for him and his team to move on.
To be clear, with seven games to be played final grades are still a ways off; nothing is etched in stone yet.
For all of the hooting and hollering coming from Soldier Field on Sunday over another embarrassing performance and step in the wrong direction, I did not spot a fat lady singing.
But where is Nagy truly? And what is now best for the Bears?
Tune out the haters and mudslingers foolish enough to believe they know as much as the coach about the game, offenses, quarterbacks, running an NFL team, play calling. They are just noise and an ugly noise to boot.
Nagy forgot more about the game in 10 minutes this morning than those clowns have ever known.
But that has little to do with succeeding in his job at which he currently is failing.
Sadly he may not know enough about being a head coach.
The most obvious clue came when it was clear to everyone in the city but the boss that his stubborn refusal to relinquish play calling duties was seriously interfering with his ability to do his job, the most important job on a football team, being the head coach.
And when he finally did perhaps only out of desperation, it may have already been too late.
As a result his game management has most often languished at the bottom of the bell curve, and meaningful halftime adjustments that often turn losses to wins for the good ones were seemingly non-existent until two games ago and then absent again Sunday vs. the Ravens.
Matt Nagy has not committed a single false start, illegal formation, ineligible receiver downfield, lined up in the neutral zone, roughing the passer, pass interference or unsportsmanlike conduct penalty or blown an assignment on the field in 3.5 seasons.
That is on his players.
But the fact that those players continue to do it week after week, creating clear roadblocks to winning football games and not being taught to stop is very much on him and his staff. And the new flavor of the month, too many men on the field, is all on the coaches.
What Nagy is left with now is one Wild Card, or hopes for a miracle.
Six or 7 wins could still save the Bears season and his job but that feels like the miracle, not the Wild Card.
Nagy came to this season with a “plan,” let Andy Dalton manage games while instituting a weekly package for Justin Fields to allow him to grow through spoon feeding rather than the crash course that has contributed greatly to the current disaster as it almost always does with rookie QB’s.
I firmly believe had he stuck to his guns, even with all the concerns I’ve detailed, this club would be at least 5-5 right now, perhaps 6-4, we wouldn’t be having this conversation and Fields would still be looking like the franchise QB of the future with a lot fewer scars on all.
But something changed between the Monday and Wednesday before the Raiders game and almost everything since has gone dark.
Whose call was that? I still struggle to believe it was Nagy’s alone.
If it was, it was likely Nagy himself that pounded the final nail in his Bears head-coaching coffin.
But if it wasn’t there may actually still be chapters left to write.