ATM: Could Offensive Improvement & Lack of Talent Save Nagy’s Job?

| December 8th, 2020

While fans are calling for a complete house cleaning, there are a number of factors that could lead to Matt Nagy’s job being safe this offseason.

The most important thing we’ve seen from the Chicago Bears the last two weeks has been offensive improvement around the quarterback. No team could win with Mitch Trubisky being a turnover machine, but we’ve seen the Bears manage to produce the last two weeks. What Nagy has been able to prove is that when the talent is nearly equal, and the quarterback is competent, his offense can work.

There’s no arguing that it took Nagy too long to fix the offense, but the fix still would’ve come in time for the team to make the playoffs if the defense hadn’t fallen off the face of the earth. If the Bears finish the last month as productive as they have been the last two weeks, Nagy can enter the offseason telling ownership that he can get the job done, he just needs better players and a new defensive coordinator.

And it’s a valid argument.

As bad as the Bears have been under Nagy, they still average almost two more points per game than the 49ers have when Kyle Shanahan hasn’t had Jimmy G. If the Bears fire Nagy after the 2020 season, they’ll be left wondering if he could’ve succeeded with a better roster, and especially a better quarterback. What if they could pair him with an Eliot Wolf-led front office or poach Mike Borgonzi from Kansas City? Is it that much of a stretch to think that Nagy, with adequate offensive talent, could get the job done? He checks every other box as a coach.

Offensive production was the biggest question we had about Nagy and we would still have that question entering the 2021 season. But that would be the case with any coach they hire and the current crop of available candidates is not impressive.

Kellen Moore came into this season thought to be an offensive genius and his team sits 26th in DVOA, despite playing in the horrendous NFC East. Joe Brady’s team is 10th in DVOA, but in the 20s in both scoring and yardage, which sounds like the job Adam Gase did with the Bears. Arthur Smith is interesting but analytics aren’t necessarily fond of his run-heavy style. In all three cases, we’re talking about coaches who have limited NFL experience and three coaches who would likely benefit from another year at the coordinator level.

There are a bunch of defensive coordinators who figure to get looks, but the Bears shouldn’t consider pairing a defensive coach with a young quarterback unless he also brings an offensive coordinator who they know is never going to leave to be a head coach.

And don’t get me started on Pat Fitzgerald, who has had one offense rank in the top 50 in scoring throughout his entire time at Northwestern. More often he has been in the 100s. Ryan Day, Matt Campbell and Lincoln Riley are interesting, but unlikely to leave.

Out of all the available coaches, Josh McDaniels is certainly the most qualified, but that’s a tough sell for so many reasons.

The 2021 candidates could be much more interesting. In addition to Moore and Brady, I want to see more from Byron Leftwich, Scott Turner, Shane Steichen, Mike McDaniel or Mike LaFleur.

The unfortunate reality is that the Bears just might have too much to do this offseason. There’s little question they’ll be hiring a new general manager and possibly a new team president with rumors of Ted Phillips’ retirement. If you’re also hiring a new coach, the best coaching candidates might be gone before the Bears process could even begin.

Nagy has two years left on his contract and has won nearly 57 percent of his games. If the offense keeps trending in the right direction despite a clear lack of talent, it just could be enough to save his job.

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