Matt Nagy is entering his third year as head coach of the Chicago Bears. After being named the AP Coach of the Year in his first season with the Bears, he delivered an underwhelming second season. Through four games this year, he has again shown no resemblance to a Coach of the Year candidate. This leads Bears fans to wonder: what are the problems with Matt Nagy?
Ditching the run game
The Bears’ offense in Nagy’s first season, unlike the his next two seasons, had success running the ball. Among all 32 NFL teams, their running game had the seventh most rushing touchdowns and was 11th in rushing yards.
In 2019, however, the Bears were 28th in rushing touchdowns and 27th in rushing yards. This season, the Bears have yet to score a touchdown running the ball, and are 20th in rushing yards.
The sudden lack of ability to run the football is alarming, and undoubtedly a reason for the disappointing Bears offense. Part of this inability in Nagy’s fault, as his play-calling shows no desire to have a strong running game. In 2018, Chicago had the sixth most rush attempts per game. In 2019, this decreased to 20th most, and in 2020, the Bears ranking has decreased to a lowly 23rd in the NFL.
The Bears’ offense has steadily decreased since their stellar 2018-2019 season, and a large reason is Nagy’s decision to abandon running the ball. This has made their play-calling much more predictable, and their offense has suffered because of it.
Losing Vic Fangio
The 2018 Chicago Bears defense was one of the best in recent memory, producing three first-team All-Pro players and four Pro-Bowlers. They were at the top of the league in nearly every category, and were extremely exciting to watch. Much of their success can be attributed to defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who became the head coach of the Denver Broncos after that unreal 2018 season. The Bears replaced Fangio with former Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, and although the Bears defense has been good, it is not nearly the same.
The 2018 Bears were first in total takeaways, while the 2019 and 2020 Bears are 19th and 22nd in takeaways. The excitement the Bears defense brought under Vic Fangio was like a spark plug for the team, consistently setting the offense up in good field position and erasing offensive mistakes.
Since hiring Pagano, the Bears defense cannot be blamed for most Bears losses. Despite their lack of takeaways, in the past two seasons they are still top 10 in points and yards allowed. However, Vic Fangio’s defense was better and improved the offense by setting them up for success.
The blame for this change does not totally fall on Matt Nagy, but it shows that much of his success in his first season should be attributed to Vic Fangio.
Not trusting Trubisky
One of Mitch Trubisky’s issues is his lack of confidence. Throughout his career, he has been compared to MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes and superstar quarterback Deshaun Watson, both selected after Trubisky. The 26 year old has been frequently criticized and mocked, both by Bears fans and nationwide.
Some players would not be fazed by such criticism, but it has clearly rattled Trubisky. His poor play reflects this lack of confidence.
Instead of focusing on helping Trubisky, Nagy lost faith in him, demonstrated by his play-calling. In 2018, Trubisky’s best season, the quarterback’s yards per attempt was 7.4. In 2019, that decreased to 6.1, and through three games in 2020, it is only 6.5 yards per attempt. Trubisky’s longest pass in 2019 was a modest 53 yards, after his longest being 70 yards in 2018.
By not trusting Trubisky, Nagy’s play-calling has also been more limited. This has made the offense much more predictable and gives the Bears less flexibility.
Although he he has never been MVP-caliber, Trubisky has the tools to be a solid NFL quarterback. However, he struggles with confidence, and Nagy has not addressed that to improve Trubisky. Instead, he has just skirted around it, and the Bears offense has dealt with the consequences.
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