It’s safe to say that if he were still the defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears, there might be some tension between Chuck Pagano and Matt Nagy.
Pagano retired at the end of last season after having spent the previous two years working with Nagy as the team’s DC, and in an October 6 appearance on The Pat McAfee Show, he let it be known he wasn’t too keen on his former colleague’s recent antics.
Nagy has been widely criticized for his handling of rookie quarterback Justin Fields, as well as for his comments after Chicago’s Week 4 win over the Detroit Lions — and Pagano thinks the criticism for both is just.
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Pagano: Nagy Said Too Much at Recent Presser
After Chicago’s 24-14 win over Detroit, Nagy was asked if he had given up play calling duties, as the offense looked markedly different than it had in previous weeks. Instead of initially admitting that OC Bill Lazor was the team’s new play caller, Nagy’s postgame comments went viral, and not in a good way, as the Bears coach kept referring to himself after a complete team victory.
“Ultimately it goes through me — everything we do, regardless of everything else, who’s calling this, who’s calling that, it goes through me,” Nagy said after Chicago’s Week 4 win.
“That part I appreciate because we do it together. Then there’s collaboration to how we do it. I thought our coaches did a great job today. I thought our coaches executed, which is what we asked for. Again, with all due respect, I understand the questions, but that’s what it is and that’s what it’s gonna be the rest of the year is just knowing that whatever happens it goes through me.”
ESPN’s Ryan Clark was one of the most visibly annoyed by Nagy’s refusal to give credit to those around him without talking about himself:
Pagano seems to agree.
“All he had to do was say: ‘Hey, Bill did a great job. Fields did a great job. Defense was outstanding, turnovers.’ End of discussion. (My wife) Tina always taught me: ‘Less is more. Shut up. You talk too damn much.’ … leave it at that,” Pagano said, in reference to Nagy’s postgame comments.
The former Bears DC and Indianapolis Colts head coach also had some strong words about the way Nagy has handled the team’s quarterback situation.
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Pagano: ‘We Know What Andy Is’
Nagy officially named Justin Fields the starter over Andy Dalton on October 6, and it was a move many have been encouraging the Bears coach to make for weeks.
“I think the court of public opinion, the fans, I’m sure there’s people in that organization who are saying: ‘Hey! This kid’s our future. Why are we gonna delay this any longer?'” Pagano said, adding:
“We know what Andy is. He’s great in that role. He can become the next Clipboard Jesus, if you will, and be the backup, and let this kid get these snaps under his belt instead of waiting, going back and forth, back and forth. One way or another, I know that locker room and everybody in that city and that organization is probably fired up that Fields is gonna be out there.”
Pagano also noted Nagy had to know where his locker room stood on the matter.
“You’d be totally ignorant not to be in tune with all that stuff. … those guys are all watching. As much as you think that they’re not, and you say, ‘earmuffs and blinders,’ that kind of stuff — they’re watching the leader. The head coach is the guy who’s out in front of this organization. He’s the guy that everybody’s leaning on for direction, whether you’re winning, whether you’re losing, good times, bad times … so you better be in tune to the locker room. You better have a great feel for what’s going on.”
Nagy took a while to make the switch to Fields — but he made it. Time will tell, but it could have been a job-saving move for the Bears head coach.