September 29th, 2021 at 5:06pm CST by Sam Robinson
Andy Dalton returned to practice Wednesday, going through the Bears’ workout in a limited capacity. And Matt Nagy has not changed his depth chart at quarterback.
The player the Bears promised would begin the season as their starter will remain so going forward, once he returns to full strength. Dalton suffered a knee contusion in Chicago’s Week 2 win over Cincinnati.
“In regards to the depth chart with them, Andy is the 1, Justin’s the 2, Nick is the 3,” Nagy said of his Dalton-Justin Fields–Nick Foles depth chart (via ESPN.com’s Field Yates, on Twitter).
Although Dalton’s injury moved Fields into the lineup, he trudged through an abysmal day in Cleveland. The No. 11 overall pick took nine sacks and completed 6 of 20 passes. First-round rookies rarely give jobs back after ascending to staring roles; Mitchell Trubisky moved into Chicago’s starting lineup in Week 5 of his rookie year and made every subsequent start in 2017. Fields’ performance may have opened the door for Dalton to stay in the picture. Fields was also uneven in his debut against the Bengals, following Dalton’s injury.
After suffering a right thumb injury, Fields practiced fully Wednesday. Foles is not on Chicago’s injury report but does not appear to have re-entered the equation for a possible starting role. The trade candidate remains in a third-string position to begin his age-32 season.
Nagy also indicated the Bears have had conversations about their play-calling role, though no decision has been made. Chicago ranks last in total yards and 31st in points through three games. Nagy gave OC Bill Lazor play-calling responsibilities amid a swoon last season, and the Bears — albeit against favorable opposition — made a late-season run to reach the playoffs. Nagy took back the play-calling reins this offseason. Lazor was Dalton’s OC in Cincinnati from 2017-18 and his position coach in 2016.
Teven Jenkins‘ rookie season might have to wait. The second-round left tackle will undergo back surgery later today, according to Bears head coach Matt Nagy.
The “hope is to have Jenkins back this season,” Nagy says, but it doesn’t sound especially promising. Jenkins, the No. 39 overall pick in this year’s draft, was slated to support starters Jason Peters and Lachavious Simmons. Now, he’ll likely have to focus on rehab with an eye on 2022.
The Bears have high hopes for Jenkins. After selecting quarterback Justin Fields in the first round, they packaged No. 52 and a third-round pick to nab the Oklahoma State standout early in the second. And, just a couple of days after drafting Jenkins, the Bears released long-time tackle Charles Leno.
With Jenkins sidelined, the Bears may look to beef up their offensive line in the coming weeks. If they look to the free agent market, the Bears could consider the likes of Mitchell Schwartz, Russell Okung, and Demar Dotson.
We know, we know…it’s probably a bit early to speculate about the job security of NFL head coaches. However, let’s not forget Bum Phillips‘ famous (supposed) quote: “There’s two kinds of coaches, them that’s fired and them that’s gonna be fired.”
Even with the start of the NFL season more than a month away, a handful of head coaches already find themselves on the hot seat. Nowadays, it isn’t all that hard to determine which head coaches are at risk of losing their jobs. You can pretty much remove the 12 first- and second-year coaches, and you can definitely remove the successful, long-term coaches (the likes of Bill Belichick, Sean Payton, etc.).
That leaves about 15 coaches with at least two years of tenure but fewer than eight years of tenure (yes, we chose eight to shoehorn Andy Reid into the “definitively safe” section but not the likes of Mike Zimmer). Have those coaches had successful teams? You can remove them from the list. Have those coaches continually shown improvement? You can probably remove them from the list, too. Have those coaches’ teams disappointed or underwhelmed, especially recently? Ding ding ding…those are the coaches on the hot seat.
As we all know, those on the hot seat either redeem themselves and save their jobs or…ultimately get canned. So, that brings us to today’s question: which head coach will be fired first? We used Bovada’s top-three options below, but we’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Following a 12-4 campaign to begin his coaching career, Nagy found his seat getting a bit warm following a disappointing 8-8 campaign in 2019. The former Chiefs offensive coordinator didn’t do a whole lot to inspire confidence in 2020. The team finished 8-8 for a second-straight season, and the former QB whisperer found his passing offense ranking in the bottom-half of the NFL in most categories.
The Bears finally bailed on Mitchell Trubisky this past offseason, and they added a pair of QBs to replace him: veteran Andy Dalton and first-round pick Justin Fields. With a solid defense that’s in win-now mode, Nagy will have to get something out of one of these signal-callers if he hopes to retain his job. Considering Dalton’s recent play and Fields’ inexperience, things are looking bleak.
It’s easy to put an asterisk on the Bengals’ 2020 campaign following the season-ending injury to Joe Burrow, but there’s no denying that Taylor’s staff has now collected an ugly 6-25-1 record through two seasons. There’s really nowhere to go but up for the head coach, but even if the Bengals improve their record in 2021, the team would still have to pass the smell test. Specifically, we should expect the offensive guru to guide Burrow and the rest of the offense to at least an above-average performance, and it’d be encouraging if the defense was able to show some progress after finishing as one of the worst units in the league in 2020.
As we saw with Marvin Lewis, the Bengals organization values continuity. It’s hard to envision the team not giving Taylor at least another full season, but if the team is unable to show any improvement over 2020, then the 38-year-old could find himself without a job.
There are a number of things working against Fangio and his future in Denver. For starters, he hasn’t done a whole lot during his two seasons at the helm, leading the team to a 12-20 record. Making it worse, the team took a clear step back in 2020, and with a questionable roster on paper, it’s hard to envision the Broncos getting a whole lot better in 2021.
Next, GM George Paton was only recently hired, so he surely won’t be feeling pressure throughout the 2021 season. However, a disappointing campaign could change things. In that hypothetical, you can bet the executive would be looking to right the ship immediately, and that would probably start with the head coach.
The final factor is the uncertain status of Broncos ownership. If the team is ultimately sold, the new owners would presumably be looking to clean house, at least from an on-field perspective. That means Fangio would surely be handed his walking papers, even if the team did show some progress in 2021.
Now, Bears head coach Matt Nagy has more or less confirmed that report publicly in a recent appearance on Cris Collinsworth’s podcast (Twitter video link). When asked by Collinsworth if there was any possible scenario where rookie Justin Fields is under center come Week 1, Nagy said “No.” Fields, of course, was just drafted 11th overall by Chicago.
“I mean Andy is our starter. And again, I can’t predict anything, you know how it goes. I mean there’s so many things that could happen between today and that Week 1. But Andy is our starter and Justin is our number two, and we’re going to stick to this plan,” he continued.
It sounds like the team wants to do right by Dalton, as he was publicly anointed as the starter after signing a one-year, $10MM deal back in March.
It’s worth keeping in mind that only four quarterbacks chosen in Round 1 since 2011 — when that year’s CBA changed first-rounders’ earnings and timelines — did not become a primary starter in Year 1. They were Patrick Mahomes, Jake Locker (2011), Johnny Manziel (2014) and Paxton Lynch (2016).
Both Nagy and GM Ryan Pace are on very thin ice. If the Bears struggle this season, they’ll almost certainly both be fired. As such, it’s hard to believe they’ll have too much patience. Unless Dalton comes in and immediately catches fire and leads the team to victories, it’s hard to see them waiting more than a few weeks to pull the trigger.
If Dalton is anything other than excellent, the pressure from fans and the media will be intense to unleash Fields, the former Ohio State star. We should learn a lot more about the situation in training camp and the preseason.
While the Bears may have promisedAndy Dalton the starting gig, they’re still in the market for a rookie quarterback. Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network (on Twitter) reports that Chicago is looking to move up in the draft in pursuit of one of the top quarterback prospects.
“One of the teams I’m told is a realistic possibility to trade up is the Chicago Bears, who want to trade up to get a QB,” Pauline said during a recent episode of his podcast.
Pauline specifically points to the Cowboys at No. 10 as a potential trade partner, which would take Chicago out of the running for (presumably) Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, and at least one of Justin Fields, Mac Jones, and Trey Lance. The Bears are currently armed with the No. 20 pick in the first round, along with a second- and third-round pick.
While the Bears may be set atop their depth chart with Dalton and Nick Foles, there have been continued whispers that they could look to the draft (including the first round) for another quarterback. Head coach MattNagy even seemed to acknowledge that the organization has been eyeing a handful of rookies QBs during a recent meeting with reporters.
“As everybody knows, we’ve been to a few pro days with some of these quarterbacks and it definitely helps, but there is only so many of those you can do and see. What’s fair is every other team is doing the same thing. Ryan and I are super excited about going through that evaluation process together and how we do it. It’s a challenge, but we look forward to it. There are a lot of good quarterbacks in this draft class.”
With the Bears midway through what became a six-game losing streak last season, Matt Nagy relinquished play-calling duties. But the fourth-year Bears head coach will take back the play sheet come September.
Nagy said Friday he will call plays next season. This comes after the Bears signed ex-Bill Lazor pupil Andy Dalton. Lazor called the Bears’ offensive plays beginning in Week 10. Despite Lazor having been Dalton’s position coach in 2016 and his offensive coordinator for the next two seasons, he will return to his initial Bears role as a non-play-calling OC.
Nagy’s play-calling acumen played a key role in his 2018 Coach of the Year award, with the former Chiefs OC elevating Mitchell Trubisky during a season that nearly ended with the Bears advancing to the divisional round. However, Trubisky regressed considerably in 2019 and was benched early in the 2020 season. While Trubisky returned to his QB1 role late in the season and led the Bears to three straight wins in Nagy’s second playoff bid, Chicago proved no match for Green Bay and New Orleans in one-sided defeats to close the season. The Bears ranked 25th in offensive DVOA last season and have not ranked above 20th in Nagy’s three seasons in charge.
The Bears promised Dalton he would be the starter and followed through on that pledge Friday, slotting the 10-year veteran above Nick Foles at quarterback. Nagy, who will enter the season on one of the NFL’s hottest seats, will be running the show during Dalton’s Chicago debut.
The Bears will need to hire a new defensive coordinator, but their power structure is otherwise expected to remain in place.
Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace are expected to stay on in their respective roles, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweets. Pace has been with the Bears since the 2015 season, hiring Nagy in 2018. The results have been mixed, and one fateful draft decision has largely defined this era of Bears football, but it appears ownership is content after a second playoff berth in three seasons.
Pace’s decision to trade up to No. 2 overall and draft Mitchell Trubisky has proven to be one of the modern draft’s premier missteps, with Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson becoming superstars fairly quickly while Trubisky struggled. The Bears declined Trubisky’s fifth-year option, and Nagy benched the embattled starter in September. However, the Bears turned back to their young passer late this season and managed to make the playoffs despite a six-game losing streak. The Saints then dispatched the NFC’s No. 7 seeded-squad in a game that saw the Bears gain just 140 yards prior to a garbage-time drive.
While Pace did well to build a championship-caliber defense — trading for Khalil Mack, signing Akiem Hicks and drafting Eddie Jackson and Roquan Smith — Chicago’s offenses have capped that unit’s relevance. The Bears lost DC Vic Fangio after the 2018 season and will now be searching for a successor to the retiringChuck Pagano. Chicago’s defense has ranked in the top 10 in DVOA over the past three seasons, but some of its key players — Mack, Hicks, Danny Trevathan and Robert Quinn — are either north of 30 or will be by the 2021 season.
Nagy earned Coach of the Year honors in 2018, with the ex-Chiefs OC elevating Trubisky considerably that year and ending a seven-season Bears playoff drought. The Bears finished fourth in the NFC North in each of the three Pace-John Fox seasons, but their 2018 slate did not prove to be an indication of an imminent ascent. The team has gone 8-8 in each of the past two years and has ranked no higher than 22nd in scoring or total offense in that span, despite the 2020 playoff berth in an expanded postseason.
It is not certain if Nagy will have a new quarterback to work with in 2021, but is does look like the young head coach has done enough to earn a fourth season in Chicago. The team still has Nick Foles under contract for 2021 but will add another starting-caliber passer — via Trubisky extension or via outside acquisition — ahead of next season. The Bears have also featured little in the way of proven weaponry outside of Allen Robinson, who is a free agent. Pace’s work reassembling Chicago’s offense this offseason will go a long way toward determining his and Nagy’s long-term futures.
Over the past few weeks, it was looking increasingly likely that Bears head coach Matt Nagy would be fired at season’s end. But after a six-game losing streak that appeared to dash the club’s playoff hopes, Chicago has won two in a row and suddenly controls its own destiny in its push for a wildcard berth.
As such, multiple sources tell Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com that the Bears are expected to retain Nagy in 2021 (Twitter link). If his team defeats the 1-13 Jaguars today, Nagy will have secured at least eight wins in each of his three seasons in the Windy City, and that may be enough for ownership to keep him around for another year.
Obviously, a loss to the tanking Jags would be a major blow to Nagy’s prospects, but it currently sounds as if he will be safe if the Bears beat Jacksonville, regardless of what happens against the NFC-leading Packers next week. Assuming that’s the case, it will be interesting to see what the club does with GM Ryan Pace, who was also said to be facing an uncertain future in Chicago. After all, a new GM may or may not want to be married to Nagy, so if Nagy stays, Pace might stay as well.
Part of the reason for Nagy’s changing fortunes is the improved play of QB Mitch Trubisky. Since Trubisky was reinserted into the starting lineup four games ago, the Bears are averaging 31 points per game, and the former No. 2 overall pick looks more comfortable and confident. Nagy has employed more play action passes to help his young signal-caller, and Trubisky has completed 68% of his passes for eight TDs against just three interceptions.
Some NFL executives tell Adam Schefter of ESPN.com that the Bears have to consider re-signing Trubisky, who is eligible for unrestricted free agency at season’s end since the club declined his fifth-year option earlier this year. A Trubisky re-up would validate both Nagy and Pace, and though it was difficult to imagine a month ago, it’s possible that all three men will be back with the Bears in 2021.
Bears head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace are facing uncertain futures in Chicago, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link). The Bears are mired in a six-game losing streak after starting the season 5-1, and it appears a major shakeup could be on the way.
Nagy’s seat has been getting hotter as the losing streak has continued, and a report surfaced last week that the Bears are more likely than not to fire their third-year HC at season’s end. If that happens, the club is said to be very interested in Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald, though it’s unclear if Fitzgerald would want to make the jump from the college ranks to the pros.
Nagy, who served as the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator for two seasons before getting the Bears’ HC gig, was named the league’s Coach of the Year in 2018, his first year at the helm. Under his watch, the Bears won the NFC North and qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2010, and while the team was ousted in the wild card round — thanks to the notorious double-doink missed field goal — the arrow seemed to be pointing up.
That was especially true since Mitch Trubisky took a major step forward with Nagy, earning a Pro Bowl nod at the end of that 2018 season and posting a 95.4 QB rating. Since then, however, it’s been all downhill for both men. The Bears slipped to an 8-8 record last year, Trubisky saw his fifth-year option declined in May, and he lost his starting job to Nick Foles earlier this season. The Bears have been near the bottom of the league in total offense in each of the past two years, not a good look for an offensive-minded coach like Nagy.
Pace, meanwhile, became the Bears’ GM in 2015 and presided over three consecutive fourth-place finishes in the NFC North before the Nagy hire appeared to right the ship. Although plenty of GMs and pundits were high on Trubisky in advance of the 2017 draft, Pace’s decision to trade four draft picks to move up from the No. 3 overall selection to the No. 2 overall pick to acquire him was widely panned at the time, and the deal has not aged well. While Trubisky has failed to live up to his draft status, 2017 draftmates Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes have become premier signal-callers.
Pace has certainly had his good moments, but one playoff appearance in six seasons generally does not make a club keen to maintain the status quo. The Bears could be in the market for a new GM, a new HC, and a first-round quarterback when the calendar flips to 2021.
Three head coaches and two GMs have already been fired this season, and there will be more dismissals to come. We learned this morning that Eagles HC Doug Pederson is on the hot seat, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says Chargers HC Anthony Lynn is in danger of losing his job as well.
The Bolts gave Lynn a modest vote of confidence this offseason by handing him a one-year extension through 2021, but despite the emergence of rookie signal-caller Justin Herbert, Lynn’s squad has limped to a 3-8 record. Several of those losses have been of the heartbreaking variety that Chargers fans have become accustomed to, and Lynn’s in-game decisions have been called into question.
The 51-year-old is highly-regarded in the Chargers’ building, and he did lead his club to a 12-4 record two seasons ago. If he does get fired, he probably won’t have a difficult time finding another HC gig.
A few weeks ago, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports said the Bears “could” move on from HC Matt Nagy at season’s end. Now, La Canfora says it’s more likely than not that Nagy will be ousted and that Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald will be Chicago’s top choice for Nagy’s replacement.
Although Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy has drawn plenty of interest and is expected to get his first HC job this offseason, Kansas City quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator Mike Kafkais also a name to watch, per La Canfora. We knew that the Eagles were interested in Kafka as an OC last offseason, and JLC says the 33-year-old former QB also had the opportunity to take a head coaching interview. Kafka declined, as he wanted to continue to learn under Andy Reid, but he will be a top target for HC and OC openings in 2021.
As far as GM jobs go, former Giants general manager Jerry Reese is expected to draw interest for the Lions‘ GM opening, as La Canfora writes. Reese, who was fired by Big Blue in 2017, wants to return to an NFL front office and has the support from advisors to the Ford family (including Ernie Accorsi, whom Reese succeeded as Giants GM in 2007).
The Texans are expected to interview former Chiefs and Browns GM John Dorsey, according to La Canfora. Dorsey was fired by Cleveland at the end of last season, but it would be fair to blame more of the Browns’ disappointing 2019 campaign on former head coach Freddie Kitchens than on Dorsey. After all, Cleveland is now poised for a playoff berth with a roster that Dorsey largely constructed, and Dorsey also has ties to Bieniemy, who has been heavily connected to Houston’s HC job.
An unfortunate neck injury may have brought an end to A.Q. Shipley‘s playing career, but he will get the chance to join the Buccaneers‘ coaching staff, as Carmen Vitali of the team’s official website writes. Shipley has long been a favorite of Tampa HC Bruce Arians, who believes the veteran center has all the makings of an excellent coach.