The State of Chicago Bears nation is mourning. They are hurting. Fans are angry. They are right to be angry. What took place on Sunday vs. the Cleveland Browns felt like a death. Fans live and die with their team and Sunday felt like a death. The death of Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy. The two fellas with nine lives. Their death took place on Sunday against the Browns.
The Chicago Bears are the most quarterback cursed franchise in the NFL. They have not had a top ten starting quarterback since the 1940s. That is a fact. Even the Jets had Namath. The Lions had Stafford. The Browns now have Mayfield. The Bears are QB starved. Long known as a franchise that lives and dies on defense and running the football, Bears fans are dying for a great quarterback. Bears fans felt their prayers were answered when the Bears shockingly traded up in 2021 and landed Justin Fields.
After an offseason where Matt Nagy held firm to a bungled belief that Andy Dalton was the best option for his football team, Justin Fields finally made his first start this past Sunday against the Browns. This wasn’t by choice. Andy Dalton hurt his knee and Matt Nagy was forced to play the prized rookie. Field’s debut was a debacle. Fans can blame Fields if they want but players that have played football were irate with Matt Nagy. Rightfully so.
I’ve never seen so many former football players rip a head coach. The gloves were off. David Carr, Dan Orlovsky, Lance Briggs, Alex Brown, Olin Kreutz. The list goes on and on. Their anger was palpable. It was personal. Not only did Matt Nagy put his rookie quarterback in a position to lose a football game, but Nagy also put Fields in harm’s way. It was football malpractice. Other owners would have fired Matt Nagy after that performance. That was a fireable offense.
I don’t have inside information, I’m working on it. But if there weren’t serious conversations to relieve Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy of their duties after last Sunday, then the Chicago Bears ownership truly doesn’t care about their franchise from a football perspective. The NFL is a cash cow and the McCaskeys are part of a trust where the sole mission is to make money. Maximize the product, make more money. That’s it. The argument is often said the McCaskeys don’t care. I believe they care. It’s human nature to want to win. The problem is they don’t know how to do it.
They are a bad organization and have been since the early 1990s. Since Ted Phillips became team President in 1991, the Chicago Bears have been to the playoffs 6 times. 6 Times total in 30 years. Once every 5 years. That is terrible. The Bears are a top ten terrible franchise from a football perspective. This isn’t opinion, it’s fact.
Things do not seem like they will get better. Nagy seems like a person that is unwilling or unable to conform an offense to his player’s strengths. His play-calling, scheme, and concepts have put the Bears at the very bottom of the NFL. Their offense had its worst performance since 1981 when the Bears put up 26 total yards of offense vs. the Lions. Last Sunday the Bears had 46 yards of total offense. It is hard to put into words how awful that is. There were three plays the past Sunday that totaled more in one play than the Bears had in 40 plus plays called.
Nagy kept calling the same game, straight dropback with a rookie QB that wasn’t seeing the field, and an offensive line that was getting crushed, blown by, and absolutely dominated. The receives were terrible as well with very little separation. This was as bad as an overall offensive performance as my eyes have ever seen and I’m a Bears fan. I’ve seen some terrible Bears offense.
Death is Hope Lost
There is nothing worse than when hope is crushed. It’s the hope that kills you is a perfect saying because by halftime the Bears knew this season is over. They knew Pace and Nagy should be fired and likely will be. They knew in the middle of September this season that offered so much excitement with a player like Justin Fields was lost. It really doesn’t matter what the Bears do record-wise. This team is closer to a top-five overall pick than they are to a playoff team. This would be something to look forward to, but as we know the Bears traded their 2022 first-round pick to the Giants to move up and get Justin Fields. That’s the cost of getting a great quarterback. The worst problem is their front office and coaching staff are clearly unable to build around Fields. To build a winner. It is abundantly clear.
So the real question is what’s next. If Nagy is terrible with his on-field decisions he is even worst with his off-field press conferences. To be fair, there isn’t much to say that will make any Bear fan happy. Maybe if Nagy said I’m clearly not the answer for this team and resigned. But that won’t happen. Fans are left with word salad nonsensical answers. What comes next? Who knows. The Chicago Bears PR folks were the happiest or most strategic PR group in the NFL to make the announcement the Bears have won the bid to the Arlington Heights Racetrack property. This was the best news that could have happened to Matt Nagy. Anything to take the pressure off that performance.
After all the Bears fans have endured. The inept offense failed first-round pick quarterbacks. Bottom ten offenses year after year after year. Matt Nagy has come out and been hush-hush on who the starting quarterback will be this coming Sunday. Nagy did say that when Dalton is healthy he will be the starting quarterback which can be construed as throwing Justin Fields under the bus. The Nagy pile on has gone too far. The truth of the matter is that Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy should have been relieved of their duties after Mitch Trubisky didn’t work out. Bears ownership didn’t do what needed to be done, they punted, and now Bears fans are left with this debacle. Everyone knows the end is near. It’s a formality at this point with 14 games left. That’s a disheartening and sickening feeling for Bears fans.
Fields or Bust
Everything about the next 14 games should about Fields development. There is likely a fire sale of any all proportions after this year. The Bears are in salary cap hell with players that will not be on the team when the Bears are ready to compete in a few years. The team needs to pivot toward ensuring Justin Fields develops in his way. Not forced into the incompetent Nagy way that has to lead to bottom 10 offenses for 4 straight seasons.
Ryan Pace created this mess. He is more to blame than Nagy. Pace hired Nagy. He traded up for Mitch with Watson and Mahomes on the board. Pace is more culpable and still, he hides, choosing not to talk to the media during the season. He has been a major disappointment and fans angst should be against Pace first, Nagy second. They have both been bad.
Really Chicago Bears angst should be directed toward ownership, but ownership can’t be fired. So Bears fans are left angry, frustrated, and apathetic. It all feels hopeless. At this point, the best course of action for the future of the franchise may be to sit Fields the rest of the season. Make him the emergency QB. The Bears have two veterans that can play out the string the rest of the year. Justin Fields will be learning a new offense next year, the Bears will have a high second-round pick to bolster the offensive line, and Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy will be a distant memory.
Who Can Help?
Fans are left dreaming of a Brian Daboll offense or Greg Roman offense or Joe Brady offense that can help Fields, Mooney, Kmet, and Montgomery put up 27 points plus on a weekly basis. The truth is this is a team in disarray. Full of wasted defensive talent, frustrated veterans that have poured their heart into making the Bears a winner owner to have ownership, management, and coaching fail them. Hicks, Mack, Fuller, Jackson join a long list of great defensive players whose success was wasted on inept offenses.
Justin Fields is the future one way or another. As great of a prospect as Fields is for the Bears, success isn’t guaranteed. The Bears must do everything in their power to find the GM and coaching staff that maximizes this kid’s strengths and builds a winning team. In the 2020s the NFL is set up for QB’s to succeed. It seems so easy for 12-15 teams. When I watch the Chiefs, Packers, Bucs, Cowboys, Bills, or Ravens it looks like they are playing a different sport than the Bears have been playing the last 30 years.
Chicago Bears fans not only deserve a winner. They deserve a great quarterback, a great offense, and an exciting product. This is possible. Fields has the traits to be great but greatness needs an offensive infrastructure to succeed. If Tom Brady had this offensive line, these playmakers, and this coaching staff he wouldn’t have won the Super Bowl. Even as great as he is he needs help. Jordan needed Pippen. Montana needed Rice and Walsh. Favre needed Holmgren. Mahomes needs Andy Reid. This is what Fields needs. I have to no idea who that person is. That isn’t my job. But the Bears have a golden ticket, the question now is will they squander it or maximize it.
For Bears fans sake, I hope the ticket hit because they are ready to riot. Rightfully so.