On a rainy Sunday at Soldier Field, John Fox‘s Chicago Bears had an opportunity. It was the first time the Bears faced a Packers team without Aaron Rodgers or Brett Favre since 1991, a team coming off a home drubbing at the hands of the division rival Detroit Lions, an offense without identity and a defense without direction.
Las Vegas installed the Bears a 5.5-point favorite.
If not for a slippery ball on a field goal hold late in the game, the Bears would have lost by double digits.
Sloppy penalties, drops, and missed assignments once again plagued a talented Chicago team that appeared headed in the right direction after two impressive wins and a battle in New Orleans.
Instead, the Bears fell to 3-6, a year removed from a 3-13 campaign which was preceded ingloriously by a 6-10 year.
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has the defense playing well despite a host of young pieces playing major roles. General manager Ryan Pace found gems such as Akiem Hicks in free agency and Eddie Jackson in the draft.
Mitch Trubisky remains an unknown quantity, but his excellent play in the preseason along with a couple key throws so far in his young career provide a path to competent play at the very least.
Depending on how the Bears ownership views the Pace-Fox relationship, the best case for the general manager is to convince the McCaskey family he’s done everything he can to provide talent to this coaching staff, who simply haven’t gotten the job done.
Pace would have to convince them he doesn’t deserve so much blame for his selection of Fox that he too, should be ousted.
If I’m running the Bears, this strikes me as a compelling argument.
But who, realistically speaking, makes sense for the Bears?
John Harbaugh represents the fan favorite pick. There’s been some speculation that the Chicago head coach position is Harbaugh’s dream job — that’s assuming you don’t believe his return to his alma mater, which he’s stated outright was his dream job, already serves that purpose.
Josh McDaniels probably isn’t going to Chicago to work with this offense, particularly when a certain team just down I-90 has a former No. 1 pick at quarterback, a talented offense, and a potential need for a new coach this offseason.
What about a young offensive coordinator who has worked under one of the best offensive minds of the last quarter century, who redesigned an offense around a talented-but-limited quarterback, a good run game, and a unique ball-in-his-hands talent?
When Doug Pederson left for Philadelphia despite being an offensive coordinator who didn’t even call plays, many wondered about the logic in such a move.
His work with Carson Wentz in transforming the Eagles offense proved the doubters wrong. Philly might be the best team in football and Wentz is the MVP favorite.
But something interesting happened when Pederson left: the Chiefs offense became even more creative. They used Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce in interesting ways and broke Andy Reid out of a mini-rut of methodical, predictable offense.
Matt Nagy, just 39, deserves the credit for an offensive makeover that transformed the Chiefs into one of the best offenses in football.
A former arena league quarterback, Nagy is the ideal coach to develop an offense that fits the skillset of Mitch Trubisky. That has to be the Bears’ top priority, particularly with the defense looking so well positioned moving forward.
And though Nagy lacks experience as a head coach, the Bears could try to convince Vic Fangio — by some reports unhappy with his standing with the Bears — to stay with more autonomy to run Chicago’s defensive unit the way he sees fit.
Such a marriage would give Nagy an established coach on the opposite side of the ball, much like the Rams have done with Sean McVay and Wade Phillips, and look what that has done for the performance of Jared Goff.
Jordan Howard ideally fits the Kareem Hunt role as a dual-threat runner. Tarik Cohen was born to play the Tyreek Hill wildcard role in the backfield, in the slot, and all over the field.
Adam Shaheen isn’t the same caliber of player as Travis Kelce (no one in the league is right now), but he’s a big, athletic player. Cameron Meredith, when healthy, provides a solid possession option and the Chiefs have long survived without a true No. 1 receiver.
Nagy’s offense doesn’t require a Julio Jones to make it work.
Kansas City runs a converted college offense, ideally suited for a young quarterback such as Trubisky, particularly with his running ability.
It’s perfect for Trubisky, which is all that should matter for the Bears. It’s time for Chicago to take a risk and sell out for the future of this franchise.
Matty Nagy could pay off in an enormous way if they do.