A two-point win over the Detroit Lions isn’t going to cure the persisting problems with the Chicago Bears, but for Matt Nagy and his team, it was enough to survive a tumultuous week and get his team re-focused on winning football games.
“Is this going to stop? No. It’s probably going to continue. There’s still going to be rumors that happen,” Nagy said. “But as long as we understand as players, and coaches, and everyone in this building, what’s real and what the truth is, then we’re ok. And I think we just showed that yesterday.”
Nagy showed up to his Friday morning press conference with the same ubiquitous positivity he’s had for nearly four years in Chicago and came ready to push back on a week’s worth of reports that — by his own admission — became a significant distraction as the Bears prepared for the Lions on a short week. Unlike former Bears head coach John Fox, whose press conferences got shorter and shorter as his seat got warmer and warmer, Nagy sat in the PNC Media Center at Halas Hall for nearly 25 minutes Friday answering every question delivered to him — and a few others that were not.
Unprompted, Nagy addressed a report that indicated Bears chairman George McCaskey “directed the Bears coaching staff to name Justin Fields the permanent starting quarterback prior to the Week 5 game against the Las Vegas Raiders.” The report from Shaw Media also said “the move was against the wishes of Nagy,” citing multiple unnamed sources.
“There was a report put out there that George made the decision to start Justin,” Nagy said. “That couldn't be, you know, there's been some false stuff out there, that couldn't be furthest from the truth, you know what i mean?”
For what it’s worth, my understanding has always been that McCaskey was briefed prior to the permanent switch to Fields — as the owner of any team should be with such a monumental decision — but it has never been communicated to me that he ordered the move.
Meanwhile, Nagy also addressed — again, unprompted — a report from the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs that said Nagy canceled all meetings that were scheduled after Tuesday’s walk-through. Tuesday was the day an erroneous report from Patch.com surfaced claiming Nagy had already been told he would be fired after the Lions game. In the midst of the speculation that was running rampant through Halas Hall, the team schedule incorrectly said there were post-practice meetings scheduled. But as Nagy explained, that was an “error” because Tuesday was really a “Friday practice” and there are no post-practice meetings on Fridays.
“When somebody told me that I abruptly ended meetings, I literally had to laugh, because you can’t make up how silly that was,” Nagy said.
If the report was relayed to Nagy that way, then it was done so incorrectly, because Biggs’ report never said he “abruptly" ended meetings. It simply said the meetings were canceled and it was “a highly unusual move that prompted one source to wonder if Nagy is resigned to his fate.”
At this point, we’re talking about semantics. Nagy admitted there was an error on the team schedule and it’s fairly obvious more than one player left Halas Hall Tuesday with some confusion about the future, which was confirmed by Bears tight end Cole Kmet in Detroit on Thursday.
"It was pretty chaotic. For me, it was tough. I’m not going to lie, it’s tough,” tight end Cole Kmet said. “You don’t know what’s true, what’s not. Then you see things that are true, because you were there for them, and you wonder how those things get out. So there’s a lot of confusion in that sense.”
That confusion led to McCaskey addressing the team Wednesday before the team flew to Detroit, which both Kmet and Nagy said was helpful.
“For George to be able to come up and talk to the team, internally with us, was important. That helped everybody,” Nagy said.
All the Bears needed Thursday was a win, and they got it, which allows everyone to reset and recharge over the weekend before coming back to Halas Hall on Monday.
While it’s now obvious that Nagy was never told he was getting fired at week’s end, there’s still some internal speculation that ownership preferred to make a move following last Sunday’s collapse against the Ravens, but put it off because of the short week. McCaskey’s address to the team at least refocused the players on beating the Lions, but it doesn’t necessarily leave anyone feeling comfortable about the future.
When the Bears reconvene at Halas Hall Monday, they’ll start preparing for a two-week stretch against the Cardinals and Packers, currently the top two seeds in the NFC with a combined record of 17-5.
“Let's understand that we worked hard to get a win and get back on track. And let's see where this thing takes us,” Nagy said. “But understand, you fought, to your credit, we fought through that. It wasn't easy, but we did it. And so, let's use that as a positive. That's the only way that we look at it.”