Matt Nagy on Borrowed Time After Chicago Bears' Latest Embarrassing Loss

Brent Sobleski@@brentsobleskiNFL AnalystNovember 17, 2020

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy is seen on the sidelines during the second half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

Matt Nagy is not yet two years removed from being named the NFL's Coach of the Year. He could very well be removed as the Chicago Bears' head coach before the end of the 2020 campaign.

The Bears' 19-13 loss Monday to the rival Minnesota Vikings marked Chicago's fourth straight defeat after a promising 5-1 start. Heading into the team's bye week, the Bears ownership group should consider a change to try to save what is quickly becoming a lost season.

An awful offense is the root of the team's illswhich is a damning statement about Nagy, who was hired because of his acumen as an offensive coach.

"[He will] reach out for different ideas; reach in to college football for creative ideas, the Arena League for ideas," general manager Ryan Pace told reporters after Nagy's hire prior to the 2018 campaign. "There are a lot of neat things you can do offensively and scheme things and maximize your personnel, and that's what Matt's really good at."

Good ideas are great, but game-planning, sequential play-calling and execution are what matter. The Bears have consistently ranked among the league's worst offenses since Nagy took the helm, and the staff's inability to maximize its talent proves an outside option may be necessary.

The desperation of Monday's approach couldn't have been more obvious.

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Prior to Chicago's latest meeting with Minnesota, Nagy realized a change was necessary. As such, the head coach relinquished play-calling duties and handed them to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor.

"I'd be lying if I said this was easy. It's not easy," Nagy told reporters. "It's one of my favorite parts of coaching. I love calling plays."

Entering Monday's contest, Chicago ranked 30th in points per game (19.8) and yards per game (317.8). The Bears were dead last with 82.3 rushing yards per contest.

How did they fare against Minnesota?

Cordarrelle Patterson scored Chicago's only touchdown with a 104-yard kickoff return—which tied him for the most all-time with Josh Cribbs and Leon Washington. The offense managed a measly 149 yards.

Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

After its initial 70-yard drive, the offense never marched more than 26 yards, as ESPN's Bill Barnwell noted. On its final drive, quarterback Nick Foles was carted off the field, and Tyler Bray replaced him.

The Bears were particularly atrocious on second down, with only nine yards, per The Athletic's Kevin Fishbain.

"Obviously we struggled mightily on offense," Nagy told reporters. "... It overshadows how well I thought our defense played."

Patterson's kickoff return marked just the Bears' second third-quarter score this season—a further indictment of Nagy and Co. Halftime adjustments are crucial to any squad's success. Obviously, the Bears offensive staff falls well short of the competency necessary to assess what's going wrong and make in-game tweaks.

After Patterson's touchdown opened the second half, Chicago went three-and-out on four straight possessions.

Sure, Lazor tried to call some quick hitters to allow his receivers to create after the catch. He even used Patterson in a Wildcat formation in an attempt to put the ball in the playmaker's hands. The Vikings weren't worried about anything, because the threat they would be burned by chunk plays didn't exist.

Sadly, Allen Robinson II's talents are going to waste.

Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

Robinson is a top-five wide receiver in the league, but inconsistent quarterback play has plagued his career. As Pro Football Focus' Brad Spielberger noted, Robinson has only seven red-zone targets this season with three receptions on three catchable targets. For comparison, Minnesota's Adam Thielen has eight receptions in the end zone (including his second touchdown reception Monday), per ESPN Stats & Info.

An argument will be made that Chicago lacks talent, especially on the offensive side of the ball—starting with the quarterback position. Therein lies the problem. Nagy's staff didn't develop Mitchell Trubisky, and the hand-picked Nick Foles hasn't performed well despite his experience in the system and previous working relationships with Nagy, Lazor and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo.

Instead, the Bears will be searching for a quarterback yet again this offseason, which makes a change in staff even more likely since the franchise will want to marry another top pick to a new coach.

Furthermore, the team has targets in rookies Cole Kmet and Darnell Mooney who could be utilized far more than they are.

"Like I have said before, we don't have a lot of 'him' routes. We have very few plays that we try to game-plan to scheme to get somebody open," tight ends coach Clancy Barone told reporters last Monday. "Oftentimes, it goes with our quarterback's read. If it's man, he's looking to go on this side, and if it's zone, he's looking to go on that side. And based upon matchups, and so on and so forth."

A coach's primary job is to place his players in positions to succeed. Clearly, the Bears staff is falling well short of those expectations.

A coaching change seems like an inevitability, and it would make sense during the bye week. The offense isn't clicking, and a new play-caller didn't result in anything of consequence.

Duane Burleson/Associated Press

With Nagy out, the Bears could turn to defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano as interim coach. Pagano posted only one losing season in six campaigns as the Indianapolis Colts' head coach. More importantly, a young mind such as DeFilippo or passing game coordinator Dave Ragone should be given a chance to further shake up the offense.

The Bears could save their season by being decisive. Only six NFC teams have a better record. With this year's expanded playoffs, the postseason shouldn't be ruled out with or without Nagy leading the way. But the offense is clearly holding back a squad with a championship-caliber defense.

Sometimes, a drastic move is necessary to infuse a team with renewed energy. The Bears need a jolt. The shock of a Nagy dismissal could prepare the team for a restart if it doesn't spark a turnaround. Either way, the Bears would be better off than what they've shown over the last four games.

   

Brent Sobleski covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @brentsobleski.