NFL

Can the Bears Really Afford to Fire Matt Nagy and Convince Pat Fitzgerald to Leave Northwestern?

When the Chicago Bears hired Matt Nagy in 2018, the franchise wanted the offensive-minded coach to take the team’s quarterback and offense to the next level. Even though the Bears won the NFC North in 2018, Chicago has heavily regressed since Nagy’s first year in Chicago, and now there’s talk about the Bears firing the 42-year-old after the 2020 season ends.

After going 12-4 in 2018 and winning the Coach of the Year Award, Nagy has really struggled as the Bears’ head coach. Chicago went 8-8 in 2019, missed the playoffs, and QB Mitchell Trubisky showed no improvement in his game.

Things in the Windy City have been even worse in 2020, as the Bears are currently 7-7 and in danger of missing the postseason for the second straight year despite starting the season at 5-1. If Chicago ends up firing Matt Nagy after the 2020 season ends, one guy fans of the Bears want to see at Halas Hall is Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald. The energetic coach lives about halfway between Northwestern’s Evanston campus and the Bears’ training facility in Lake Forest.

The Bears, though, may have a tough time convincing the 46-year-old to leave Northwestern for the NFL.

Matt Nagy had the city of Chicago buzzing in 2018

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The Bears hired Matt Nagy in 2018, stealing him from the Kansas City Chiefs, where he was the team’s offensive coordinator. Chicago averaged 26.3 points per game in Nagy’s first year as head coach, which was good for ninth in the NFL. The Delaware product was calling great plays for the Bears week in and week out.

Mitchell Trubisky started 14 games in 2018. He missed two games due to injury. The former No. 2 overall draft pick threw for 3,223 yards and 24 touchdowns while completing 66.6% of his passes. Trubisky and Nagy seemed to have a special bond on the field, and the Bears were confident the duo would lead the franchise to its first Super Bowl since 1985.

The Bears won the NFC North and faced the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card round. Chicago lost by a final score of 16-15 at home. Bears kicker Cody Parkey missed the potential game-winning field goal at the end of regulation, and nothing has gone right for Matt Nagy or Mitchell Trubisky since.

The Bears’ offense has declined under Matt Nagy since Year 1

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In Year 2 under Matt Nagy, the Bears had one of the worst offenses in the NFL. The team averaged just 17.5 points per game, 29th in the league, and wasted a season in which the defense was elite again.

After making the Pro Bowl the previous season, Mitchell Trubisky was putrid in 2019. He went 8-7 as the starter, threw 10 interceptions, and had a total quarterback rating of 42.6. The Bears finished third in the NFC North and missed the postseason.

Chicago decided to decline Trubisky’s fifth-year option for the 2021 season before the 2020 campaign started. The 26-year-old started the first three games of the 2020 season before getting benched for Nick Foles in the second half of the Bears’ Week 3 game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Other than his performance against the Falcons, Foles was actually worse than Trubisky. Nagy was under fire from Bears fans since he was supposed to be a quarterback guru. The New Jersey native finally gave up play-calling duties in Week 10 versus the Minnesota Vikings to Chicago offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. The writing was seemingly on the wall for the Bears to fire Nagy since he wasn’t doing what he was hired to accomplish.

Nick Foles got hurt in Week 10 versus the Vikings, so Matt Nagy had to go back to Mitchell Trubisky in Week 12 against the Green Bay Packers. The Bears are 2-2 since Trubisky returned to the lineup, and the offense has looked much better with Mitch under center and Lazor calling the plays, which is a huge indictment on Nagy.

If he had done his job right initially, Nagy would have never benched Trubisky and made him look so poor on the field.

Will the Bears fire Nagy and go after Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald?

The Bears have to win their next two games against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Packers and hope that the Arizona Cardinals falter to make the playoffs in the NFC. Chicago trails Arizona for the final Wild Card spot.

Even if the Bears do make the playoffs, many fans of the team want ownership to fire Matt Nagy and hire Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald. The former Northwestern linebacker, who has won two Big Ten West titles over the past three years and led Northwestern to three 10-win seasons, will be heavily pursued by NFL teams during the offseason, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

It is widely assumed that the Bears would have to pay Fitzgerald $8 million a year to get him out of Evanston. He loves coaching his alma mater and has called the Northwestern gig his “dream job” on many occasions.

It’s about time the Bears made a bold move, though, and open up their checkbooks for a guy like Pat Fitzgerald. He’s the definition of a players’ coach and would lead with the passion the Chicago franchise needs to get back to the Super Bowl.

Stats courtesy of Football Reference.