January 25, 2022


Analysis

Hub Arkush: It’s time for Bears to make changes

Chicago Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy

CHICAGO – You didn’t need to watch all of Sunday’s 33-22 loss to the Cardinals to know what comes next for the Bears. It was abundantly clear by early in the third quarter what Bears chairman George McCaskey must do.

There is a world of difference between a head coach whose team has quit on him or has lost his locker room, the cardinal sin for a head coach, and a team that is simply no longer able to respond.

Head coach Matt Nagy has not lost his players respect and commitment.

As David Montgomery, the Bears best player on the field Sunday said immediately following the game, “I know that when he took this job, he took everything that came with it as well, and that was the players as well.

“So whatever he feels, we feel too.

“Coach Nagy’s been an amazing person, he’s been amazing, even up to this point, with being a great head coach. And he’s going to continue to be that.”

But at this point the nuance is irrelevant, Nagy’s team is broken and the “continue” part seems impossible.

Whether it’s lack of focus, an inability to understand the rules that lead to one win-killing penalty after another, poor learning skills, poor teaching skills or anything else you want to throw at the wall, there no longer is any reason to believe it can be fixed without change.

I hate that it’s come to this but it is a part of the job of being a head coach in the NFL. Good men are fired all the time.

After a brilliant start Nagy has marched his club slowly but incrementally backwards.

What McCaskey must now decide is when to pull the plug so he doesn’t end up doing more damage than good, and are coaching changes enough?

If Nagy still is on the job by the time you read this what McCaskey most likely is noodling is whether or not there is anyone on Nagy’s staff who can at least do as much if not more good working with Justin Fields for the next few weeks, and will do no harm?

Unless he has a vision no one else can see, and it’s hard to imagine the tens of thousands of empty seats at Soldier Field on Sunday wouldn’t have cleared that up for him, McCaskey will have to do the deed by Christmas Day or immediately after the Dec. 26 game against Seahawks to take full advantage of the new rules allowing him a two-week head start interviewing new potential candidates for the job.

Some might argue the most humane thing to do would be to just axe Nagy now, but sadly Nagy’s results aren’t generating a ton of humanity outside his own locker room.

And the other calculation facing the owner is what to do about Nagy’s immediate boss, general manager Ryan Pace.

The majority of my sources are reporting there still is some comfort at the top with Pace as either the top football guy in the organization, or at least one of the top guys.

But remember the last time the NFL’s heritage franchise sunk this low both G.M. Phil Emery and head coach Marc Trestman got bounced in the first dramatic move of the George McCaskey regime.

If the chairman does decide on a full scale house-cleaning, the two-week head start on a coaching search will be of little or no value unless McCaskey and his right arm, Ted Phillips, will be filling those jobs on their own.

That is a prospect almost no one approves of.

Many will single out Andy Dalton and his four picks as the culprit in what proved to be a 33-22 loss to the Cardinals, and few, including Dalton, will argue.

But at this point that was a product of the dysfunction far more than the cause.

If Sunday proved anything, it is time for the owner to start cleaning up a mess of his own making, and justly or not, Nagy must be a principle victim.

It has nothing to do with blame and everything to do with the reality that he just doesn’t appear to have any answers.

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush is a Bears/NFL Insider for Shaw Media