LAKE FOREST – At this point in the season, with the chance to turn things around already passed, he was prepared for the questions that were inevitably going to come in the 18th and final week of the 2021 NFL season.
After three seasons where the team failed to match their performance from their NFC North-winning 2018 season, the Bears are likely to move on from head coach Matt Nagy at the end of the season. For many, it’s already a formality, and one report on Wednesday said the coach has already been informed of his fate.
NFL analyst and former quarterback Boomer Esiason said on the “Boomer and Gio” show at WFAN-AM in New York that Nagy was already informed that he won’t be retained at the end of the season.
When asked about it at his Wednesday news conference, Nagy offered an immediate rebuttal.
“As I always tell you, I’m very honest and open with you all, and that has not been told to me,” said Nagy when asked if he has been told that he will not return as Bears’ head coach next season. “There’s going to be reports that come out probably at this time of the season, so anything that is said or reported by anybody is just that.
“I haven’t been told anything and I’m a pretty good source to ask, so I think you’re doing a good job asking me. I would say that anybody that has a report that who is going to talk to somebody that talked to somebody who talked to somebody; call me up and ask me. I promise you I’ll tell you the truth.”
Nagy is finishing his fourth year with the Bears, sporting a 34-30 regular season record with a 0-2 mark in the playoffs. In 2018, he led the Bears to a 12-4 record and their first NFC North title in eight years and was named the NFL’s Coach of the Year.
Fortunes changed the next two seasons when an inconsistent offense led to back-to-back 8-8 finishes, with the team making the playoffs as the newly created seventh seed in 2020.
It’s been more of the same this season for Nagy’s team as a 3-2 start to the year evaporated during a stretch where the Bears lost eight-of-nine games. They’ve won their last two contests over the Seahawks and Giants to improve to 6-10.
Nagy understands why the speculation has been flowing the last few weeks as the season draws to an end and the organization likely looks for a change at the head coaching position. It’s something that he’s ready for as the finale against the Vikings on Sunday in Minneapolis.
“That’s a part of this job,” said Nagy on the speculation on his job. “Again, I’ve been saying it from the very beginning: When you’re in a results-oriented business, you know that when you get into it. So that’s a part of why you get to this point is you’re able to handle situations like this. But I think when you have clear communication from the start until today, you know, it’s been great communication. That’s what’s important is making sure you have that.
“As a leader, you’ve gotta make sure that you’re honest with your players, with your coaches, with where things are, and we’ve never wavered on that, we’ve never changed on that.
“Every year, there’s always teams, players, and coaches that when you get to the end of the year, you hit the repeat button every year, whichever team, player, coach it is, and it’s just a matter of making sure that you handle it the right way and you’re open and honest. I think that’s what I’ve been this entire time and I think the players understand and respect that and that’s probably why we’re playing the way we’re playing right now.”