If the Bears’ loss to the Green Bay Packers a week ago was the point of no return for Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy, what was this latest catastrophe?
The Bears’ 34-30 loss to the Detroit Lions changes the metaphor. We’re now talking about nails in the coffin of the Pace-Nagy era at Halas Hall.
It no longer feels like a question of “if” there’s a house-cleaning at Halas Hall. It’s a question of when. Like in the next 18 hours, or just merely after the season?
Maybe the best example of that inevitability comes from being completely unable to discern which coach said these next two quotes you’ll read – Nagy or John Fox.
“You don’t come into this job, whether it’s as a player or a coach, with questions about your job security,” Bears coach A said. “That’s not why I do this. Whatever happens to the things I control, I’ll work to control – and that’s to get our football team better.”
“I don't get into any speculation on any of that,” Bears coach B said. “What my job is to do is to make sure that each and every week I'm giving it everything I can as a coach and as a leader with these guys. I have to make sure that I do that. Any other thing that's a distraction, that would be taking away from our team. And that would be not good for me or them, so I don't even get into that.”
(Coach A is Fox after a particularly brutal loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017. Coach B is Nagy after the Bears’ loss to the Lions Sunday.)
The Bears' loss to the Lions was numbing. Nagy and the three players who spoke to the media postgame – Mitch Trubisky, David Montgomery and Bilal Nichols, hardly the core leadership of this team – just sounded numb. Not defeated. Not frustrated. Not pissed off. Not embarrassed.
“You know, after a loss like that, it’s hard to say anything,” Nichols said.
The only question that matters for the Bears is how much longer Nagy and Pace will have their jobs at Halas Hall – and if team president Ted Phillips will be reassigned to a different role, one that perhaps does not have as much influence in picking the franchise’s next GM and coach.
It’s been an incredible turn from where this team sat two years ago – on top of the NFC North, dancing in end zones, running Willy Wonka-themed trick plays and seemingly having nowhere to go but up with a menacing defense and improving young quarterback.
Remember when there was some hope at the Bears 100 Celebration of winning the team's second Super Bowl, in the franchise's 100th season, on George Halas' birthday?
“Yeah, I don't know,” Nagy said. “I think for us alls I know about is who our players are as people and how they handle this stuff, and it's not because of a want, i know that, you know. This is difficult, man. This is the life in sports. And it's not easy. It's not fun when you lose. And the only thing you can do is continue to support each other, just fight for one another and understand that it's not because of lack of trying.”
But in the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s game, I’m not at all concerned with how much this team tried. Or even the mistakes that led to the loss: The call for a pass on third and four just after the two minute warning that resulted in Trubisky getting strip-sacked; The 402 yards Matthew Stafford threw for without his No. 1 wide receiver; The amount of money the Bears sunk into their pass rush to barely affect Stafford; Another scoreless third quarter; An in-the-opposing territory punt late in the game; Etc., etc., etc.
What I’m more interested in is if this game will be the impetus for the McCaskey family to do something they’ve never done: Fire a coach in the middle of a season.
Fox and Marc Trestman held on until Black Monday.
We’ll have our answer Monday morning.
Because if Nagy can survive not only an embarrassing loss to the Packers, but a numbing loss to the Detroit you-know-what-ing Lions, no matter how long this losing streak gets he’ll make it to the end of the season.
And probably not much farther than that.