MORNING AFTER: The ultimate test for Matt Nagy for the rest of 2021

Bears Report

CLEVELAND, OHIO – SEPTEMBER 26: Head coach Matt Nagy of the Chicago Bears on the sidelines during the game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 26, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

CLEVELAND – These are days to forget, but you can be that people around or who root for the Bears are always going to remember.

This was the day where Matt Nagy took the fire and ire of an entire fan base as his offense failed to get anything going with Justin Fields at the helm. It’s not an understatement when saying “anything” either, because this was the second-lowest yardage output in the over 100-year history of the franchise.

“You almost can’t even make it up. It’s that bad,” said Nagy in the defining quote from his postgame news conference after a 26-6 loss to the Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday.

He’s right.

The Bears gained 47 total yards – the second-lowest in franchise history – while gaining just 1.1 yards per offensive play. Fields was sacked nine times by Cleveland defenders, including a franchise-record 4 1/2 by Myles Garrett as he wasn’t rolled out of the pocket enough to give him a chance.

Hence Fields was 6-of-20 passing with just 12 yards rushing on three carries, spending most of his time unsuccessfully trying get find his way around Browns’ pass rushers who made his first start a miserable one. A short field after a fourth down in the first quarter and a pass interference call in the third allowed Cairo Santos to get a pair of field goals.

Other than that, it’s arguably one of the worst performances in franchise history in what was an anticipated contest because of Fields’ start. Instead, it was a disaster, and the focus is squarely on Matt Nagy.

The Bears weren’t able to get the quarterback out on designed rollouts, leaving Fields in the pocket for the Browns’ strong pass rush to feast. Nagy wasn’t able to form a game plan to utilize the strengths of his first round draft pick, bringing more angst to the head coach who has slipped since his incredible 2018 season.

Nagy was supposed to be the offensive mind that would finally solve the Bears’ problems on offense that had plagued them for decades, not years. Creativity caught fan’s eye during that first season and the defense’s dominance produced an NFC North championship, but since then it’s been a struggle.

He along with Mitchell Trubisky could never find a way for it to work, and the offense sloshed their way through 2019 season. The 2017 No. 2 overall pick then split playing time with Nick Foles, with neither doing well outside of a few bright moments, but the team still got into the playoffs thanks to an added Wild Card.

Instead of firing him, the Bears stuck with Nagy, gave him Andy Dalton first then the prospect Fields in the draft. If anyone on the team had anything to prove, it’s the head coach, who would get one more chance to get the offense to work to keep his job.

Now three games in, already the calls are for the Bears to do what they’ve never done: Fire a coach before the end of the season. They’re 31st in points and 32nd in yards and at 1-2 in what’s still very early in the 2021 campaign, with the same problems repeating themselves again.

“When you look at games like this with the competitor in you, it’s hard with numbers like this to where
we are offensively,” said Nagy when asked if this game was an eye-opener to question his strategy with the offense. “The competitor in you gets frustrated, but at the same point in time, I think that’s probably one of my greatest strengths is my care and want to get this thing fixed.”

At some point, he has to, or his time in Chicago may end in a few months.

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