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Chicago Bears

Hub Arkush: Matt Nagy deserves a ton of credit for 4-1 start, but the offense's woes are also on him

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy calls a play during the game against the Indianapolis Colts during Week 4 at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy calls a play during the game against the Indianapolis Colts during Week 4 at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Matt Nagy is an outstanding NFL head coach.

You are what your record says you are. In 2 1/4 seasons leading the Chicago Bears he is 24-14, already has one NFL Coach of the Year Award, and while he is 0-1 in the playoffs, that loss was on his placekicker. Who knows how far his club might have gone that year were it not for the double doink?

Perhaps most impressively, Nagy’s Bears this year are 4-1 in spite of having one of the worst offenses in the NFL.

But therein also lies the rub.

Nagy got the job in Chicago based almost exclusively on his offensive chops as an Andy Reid disciple.

Is it getting in the way of him being the best head coach he can be?

We seem to take it on faith that Ryan Pace made a huge mistake drafting Mitch Trubisky, but is it possible that Trubisky’s issues to date are in part due to the coaching he’s had?

No, the Bears offensive line isn’t very good, but is that the only reason the Bears can’t run the football?

Yes, Allen Robinson is the only threat in the Bears offense they can consistently count on, but is that because all the other skill guys are overrated, or is it possible they’re just not being put in situations to succeed?

Last Friday morning after a big win over the Bucs rather than celebrating Nagy was prepared for the offensive doubters and offered his explanation of the problems.

“I thought offensively, just looking at it and you start wondering about the sloppiness and where things are at and how to get to where we need to go — I just look back after watching the tape and the details right now in this offense are not there," he said. "So that’s our job as coaches to make sure that we get these freakin’ details right."

“It’s as simple as that,” he told us.

But is it really? I’m not so sure.

From the minute Nagy got here he as been happy to hand off his defense first to Vic Fangio and then Chuck Pagano, but the offense has remained his baby.

So much so that he added coaches he’d never worked with before in Mark Helfrich, Harry Hiestand and Kevin Gilbride, but we were all in the dark as to what they were here to do.

Helfrich was the offensive coordinator but allowed nowhere near the playcalling, and we have no idea how near the gameplan. Heistand was the offensive line coach but was he supposed to coordinate the ground game?

Those three were perceived to be part of the issues with a slow developing offense and let go and replaced by Bill Lazor, — and we have no idea if he has any more impact on the offense than Helfrich did — Juan Castillo, who is here to coordinate the run game, and Clancy Barone to manage a brand new cadre of tight ends.

Asked Thursday why some players — specifically Cole Kmet — aren’t getting enough snaps Lazor had an interesting response.

“At the end, you just stay focused on, No. 1, are we doing what we think is best to make us productive so we can win," Lazor said. “As long as you keep that in mind, that's the No. 1 goal. Then you try to prioritize the other goals behind that — how much are we using each guy? Do we want to be multiple? Do we want to let guys get in a rhythm?

“You can't let those lesser things take the place of the most important thing — are we doing the best thing for us to be productive so we can win?”

I’ll say it again; so far Nagy is an excellent head coach but a badly struggling offensive coordinator.

The problem isn’t as simple as playcalling. It’s the whole scheme just isn’t working right now, and I think Nagy has to ask himself if he is doing all he can to get the most out of the weapons he has and utilizing what they’re good at, or is he so focused on having the fanciest, most exciting, innovative offense in the game that he’s lost the forest through the trees?

Could it be he needs to fire himself and let his assistants do their jobs?

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