Matt Nagy sounded as open as he’s ever been to relinquishing playcalling duties when asked Monday, a day after the Bears’ third consecutive loss.
"I’m looking at all that right now," Nagy said. "… Where we’re at right now, as an offense and struggling the way we are, you have to be able to look at everything, including myself. So we’ll see where that goes. We play Monday and we will make the best decision possible here. I think that’s a part of some of the decisions that we look at for sure.”
Nagy’s answer stands in noticeable contrast to how he responded to previous inquiries on the hot-button topic, which has been a hot-button topic for about a year now. That's not exactly the best endorsement of Nagy's offense.
Tuesday, Oct. 27, when asked where he feels he is as a playcaller and if he’d be willing to give up that role to someone else on staff: “I look at all that. That's the very first thing I look at is that. I talk to our coaches and we talk through that whole process. I'm really honestly not opposed to, there's no opposition from me if we feel like that that's what the issue is. And so we look at that. Right now, where we're at, that's not where we think it's at.
“But at the same point in time, I'll always continue each week to look at it. I'll say this, too. When you're in a little bit of a rut like we are, a lot of bit of a rut like we are right now, you have to look at everything. And sometimes even if it's just a little bit of a change somewhere, too, you have to be able to do that. No one here, coach and/or player, has too big of an ego to think that it's not them as a player or a coach. We talk through those kinds of decisions. We'll just keep evaluating and rolling and seeing where we're at.”
Thursday, Oct. 29, when asked if he’s given more thought into giving up play calling: “We look into everything. We feel very confident with the players we have, with the plays that we’re calling, and we realize there’s a lot more to it than just that. What I said the other day was real. We always look at everything. We evaluate it all. But no.”
So, recently, Nagy has at least expressed a willingness to consider giving up playcalling, even if he doesn't see it as a problem that needs immediate fixing. He’s walked up to the line while saying he doesn’t believe he needs to cross it.
Those two comments came in the days after the Bears' Monday night loss to the Los Angeles Rams. But they’re also similar to what Nagy said after the last time the Bears were embarrassed on national TV in Los Angeles.
“I have zero ego and I have zero care of giving play-call duties to somebody else,” Nagy said on Nov. 18, 2019. “I really do not care about that, and if that’s what we feel like from going through it that that’s what we need to do, then I would do that, I really would.
“But when you go through the tape and you look at things and you know schematically where we’re at and what we’re calling and when we’re calling it, there’s without a doubt a few plays in that game that I would go back and say, ‘You know what, that’s our fault. We didn’t scheme it right,’ and that starts with me. And I need to be able to accept that and know how do I fix that. But we’ll do everything we can … we’re turning over every stone to get this thing right.”
And Nagy, back at the NFL Combine in February, explained why he would continue to call plays in 2020 after hiring a new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, both of whom have playcalling experience.
“Yeah, I’ll be calling the plays,” Nagy said. “And we do have a lot of guys who have called plays and so for me, y’all don’t get to see it because you’re not in the meetings with us but a lot of time we’ll talk through, why would you make this call or that call? And that’s growth in myself, too, as a playmaker.
“I learned a lot last year in so many different ways, on and off the field, as a head coach. I learned a lot as a playcaller, with players how they work, with scheme, with coaches. I’m at a point right now after two years in this role where I’m just so fired up and excited. I feel rejuvenated. And I’m refreshed in a lot of different ways. And really just taking on a lot of thoughts.”
So Nagy, today, sounds much more willing to give up play calling than he did during 2019’s nadir. And he sounds more willing to give up play calling now than he did in February (before things were hurtling downhill) or October (as things were hurtling downhill).
But will he now that the Bears are down the hill and still sliding to new depths of offensive ineptitude? While Nagy has stressed he has zero ego and is open to the decision, doing so would be a significant admission of his own failure – the failure of his offense, the one he designed and was brought to Chicago to run.
Football coaches do have egos, no matter what Nagy says, and rarely do they admit failure. But don’t forget Nagy might only be in Chicago because his mentor, Andy Reid, handed playcalling duties to him during an offensive rut in 2017. That decision might’ve saved the Kansas City Chiefs’ season that year.
The 2017 Chiefs, though, had better players than the 2020 Bears. I wrote this a few weeks ago and it still stands – the Bears’ offensive issues are much, much deeper than the guy calling the plays.
But also, changing playcallers would send a message of accountability. And it would send a message that Nagy is at least trying something different on a larger scale. That’s important.
And when nothing's working, there's no reason to continue doing the same things that haven't been working. Sometimes change for change's sake is good. Nagy can change who's calling the plays. It's his decision.
So, yes, Nagy should hand his “be you” playcalling sheet to someone else. I believe he should. And Nagy might be starting to believe he should, too.