First & Long: Time to Pull Plug on Nagy, Fields Still Confident, Herbert Taking Advantage of Increased Reps, Cardinals Only Undefeated Team

Bluntly stated, Matt Nagy has no business coaching the Bears and if he continues, will do nothing but impede the development of rookie QB Justin Fields. That’s not to say the blame shouldn’t be spread up the ladder, but the head coach should have been fired, probably during last season’s six-game losing streak, and not just because the team has been mediocre since going to the playoffs in 2018. The guy is just clueless and proved it (yet again) in yesterday’s 38-3 loss to the Buccaneers.

When Nagy was named the organization’s 16th head coach, the consensus was that he was the right guy to head the development of Chicago’s previous first-round signal-caller, Mitchell Trubisky. Though Trubisky was once thought to be the team’s first franchise quarterback since Jim McMahon, he was inconsistent and stagnated to the point that the Bears let him leave in free agency after just four seasons.

Fields has shown similar inconsistency through his first five starts as a professional, and though he struggles with reading defenses and sometimes forces throws into tight coverage, those types of mistakes can be attributed to being a rookie. Still, if his coaches cannot put him in a position where he can be as successful as possible, why hasn’t Ryan Pace or Ted Phillips pulled the plug on letting Fields start, or more importantly, canning Nagy?

As much as we’d all love to see the head coach exit, it does Fields and his teammates no good if Phillips doesn’t allow Pace to hire an experienced replacement. Since George Halas retired for the second time after the 1967 season, Chicago has employed a long list of head coaches with little or no experience:

  1. Jim Dooley (1968-71) was the defensive coordinator under Halas and led the team to a 20-36 record over four seasons.
  2. Abe Gibron (1972-74) took over the reins after the Bears slumped to 1-13 the previous year. He was an assistant to Dooley and won just 11 games over three seasons.
  3. Jack Pardee (1975-77) was the head coach of the Florida Ambassadors in the World Football League when Halas tabbed him to coach his underachieving team. In three seasons he was 20-22 and was named UPI Coach of the Year in 1976, and led the Bears to the playoffs for the first time in 14 seasons the following year, but moved to Washington to coach the Redskins when Halas wouldn’t pay him enough to stay.
  4. Neill Armstrong (1978-81) was an assistant coach with the Vikings when he was selected to replace Pardee, and led the Bears to the playoffs in 1979. He was fired after the final game of the 1981 season and was 30-35 as Chicago’s head coach.
  5. Mike Ditka (1982-92) was the most successful coach in the post-Halas years, and other than his employer, the only head coach to lead the Bears to an NFL championship. Ditka finished a brilliant career with a record of 168-106, falling short by one year on his promise to get the Bears to the Super Bowl within three years.
  6. Dave Wannstedt (1993-98) came to the Bears after serving under Jimmy Johnson in Dallas and was the hottest head coaching candidate available going into the ’93 season. He’s not-so-fondly remembered for his truncated injury reports, but his undoing was likely a 1-11 record against the Packers in his six seasons with the Bears. He was Coach of the Year in 1994 and finished his career with a 40-56 record.
  7. Dick Jauron (1999-2003) enjoyed a pretty uneventful tenure with the Monsters of the Midway, where he snoozed his way to 35-45 record despite an inspiring 13-3 record in 2001, one of two genuinely exciting seasons in the post-Ditka years. Jauron was a defensive coordinator for the Jaguars when Chicago hired him.
  8. Lovie Smith (2004-12) was the guru behind the vaunted Tampa 2 defense, and joined the Bears after stints as a defensive coordinator with the Buccaneers and Rams, guiding Chicago to 81 wins in nine seasons, including the team’s second Super Bowl appearance in 2006, where they lost 29-17 to the Colts.
  9. Marc Trestman (2013-14) came to the Bears from the Canadian Football League and was tasked with regenerating Chicago’s putrid offense. Consistently underprepared and poor at making in-game adjustments, Trestman was fired after going 13-19 in two seasons.
  10. John Fox (2015-17) is the only hire in team history who had previous head coaching experience but could muster just 14 wins in three seasons, allegedly proving to Ted Phillips and the McCaskey’s that paying for previous experience is a waste of money.

What’s even more telling is that seven of those 10 head coaches never got another NFL head coaching job again. Only Pardee (Redskins), Ditka (Saints), and Wannstedt (Dolphins) got chances to redeem themselves with other organizations.

Nagy has guided the team since, but barring a miracle, this will probably be his last season with the Bears, if he even makes it to Game 17. He previously worked as a quality control coordinator with the Eagles, and as a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator with the Chiefs. Phillips and Pace need to find someone with previous success as a head coach if they truly want to maximize the potential of their rookie QB.

Bears News & Notes

There’s a Flag… On the Play

Panthers QB Sam Darnold was sacked by his own player yesterday.

NFL News & Notes

With a 7-0 record, the Cardinals are the NFL’s lone undefeated team. Arizona beat the Texans 31-5 yesterday.

TE Zach Ertz had a banner debut for the Cardinals and drew instant praise from his teammates.

A drunk fan invaded the Ravens’ radio booth pleading for another drink.

After yesterday’s loss, the Chiefs are 3-4, and there is plenty of blame to go around.

New England head coach Bill Belichick did not hide his happiness as his Patriots were blowing out the Jets.

Despite a number of injuries, including a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder, the Browns are still willing to make Baker Mayfield one of the game’s highest-paid players.

Mayfield said he will continue to sit out until doctors are convinced he is fully able to protect his shoulder.

Game Balls

  1. Joe Burrow – With 416 passing yards and three touchdowns against a tough Ravens D, the Bengals QB is solidifying himself as one of the game’s elite quarterbacks.
  2. Cooper Kupp – The Rams wide receiver is becoming the game’s best catcher, and yesterday’s line of 10 catches, 156 yards, and two touchdowns certainly proves that. Kupp is the third receiver in franchise history t reach 800 yards in the team’s first seven games.
  3. Tom Brady – Aside from continually breaking his own record for touchdown passes, the veteran signal-caller could have spent yesterday padding his own starts against a beleaguered Bears defense, but chose not to. “We left a lot of points on the field,” Brady said after the game.
  4. Zac Taylor – The Cincinnati head coach is an early frontrunner for Coach of the Year after his team knocked off the Ravens 41-17 yesterday. If the season ended today, the 5-2  Bengals would be the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

Northern Exposure

The Packers have a short week ahead of their big game against the Cardinals, and Green Bay defensive coordinator Joe Barry will not be able to travel with the team to Arizona for Thursday’s tilt due to COVD-19 restrictions.

A gutsy performance by the Lions nearly resulted in an upset win over the Rams, but in the end, red-zone struggles cost Detroit dearly in the 28-19 loss

The Vikings have traded DE Stephen Weatherly to the Broncos for two seventh-round draft picks. Minnesota has a bye this week.

Three Yards and a Cloud of Dust

  1. Brady is the only QB in the history of the league to throw more than 600 TD passes.
  2. Ja’Marr Chase became the 2nd-youngest player in NFL history with a 200-yd receiving game and the Bengals rookie has the most receiving yards through a player’s first 7 career games in NFL history.
  3. The Packers became the first team in NFL history to win 6 straight games following a season-opening loss by 35+ points.

Personal Foul

It’s entirely possible Nagy is starting to lose the locker room.

From the Podium

  • “Let’s make this count as one loss, not four losses.” – Nagy
  • “I’m confident that our coaches and our players can get better. We know any time you’re not scoring — we’re not running from that — we understand it. We know that we want to be better and it’s all of us included.” – Nagy
  • “Times like this, times when you get blown out, you got two choices — you can either say ‘[expletive] it, I’m gonna stop, I’m gonna stop working, I’m going to stop playing.’ Or you can go the other route and say, ‘I’m gonna keep working.’ And I know me, myself, no matter how many picks I throw, no matter how many L’s we take, I’m gonna keep going.” – Fields
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