Barring and unforeseen miracle, the 4-7 Chicago Bears will be moving on from head coach Matt Nagy after the season. The Bears snapped their five-game losing streak against the Detroit Lions week 12, but with opponents like the Arizona Cardinals and Green Bay Packers coming up over the next two weeks, the odds strongly favor Chicago ending this season with a losing record.
Nagy was on the hot seat entering the season, and rumors and reports have been flying for weeks suggesting his dismissal is inevitable. The Bears have never fired a head coach during the regular season before, so his ouster will likely come sometime after Week 18 in early January.
With another head coaching change likely, potential candidates to replace Nagy are naturally being tossed around — and one intriguing name is currently coaching up in Green Bay.
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Nathaniel Hackett Dubbed Top Contender to Replace Nagy
In his November 22 column for NBC Sports, Alex Shapiro chose Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett as a top-5 candidate to replace Nagy, should he get the axe come season’s end. Here’s Shapiro’s logic for choosing Hackett:
“If you can’t beat ‘em, hire one of ‘em away. That could be the thought process with Hackett, who has overseen Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ dynamic offense since 2019. While Davante Adams truly blossomed the year before Hackett arrived, he did run the show for Adams’ All-Pro season last year. He’s also shown flexibility by putting more of a focus on Aaron Jones, A.J. Dillon and the run game this season.”
Putting an emphasis on the run game has helped the Bears on offense this year, (they’re currently ranked 8th in the NFL in rushing yards per game, the only major offensive category they’re not near the bottom in) and finding a new head coach who better understands how to utilize talents like David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert wouldn’t be a bad thing for Chicago. The Packers’ OC also has a solid track record of putting together offenses that produce.
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What Kind of Coaching Background Does Hackett Have?
The 41-year old OC has been coaching for nearly 20 years, starting in college at UC Davis as a linebackers coach, so he has experience shaping talent on both sides of the ball.
Here’s a look at Hackett’s resumé:
- UC Davis (2003), Assistant linebackers coach
- Stanford (2003-2004), Offensive/defensive assistant to the coordinators
- Stanford (2005), Specialists/recruiting coordinator
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2006–2007), Offensive quality control
- Buffalo Bills (2008–2009), Offensive quality control
- Syracuse (2010), Passing game coordinator/Quarterbacks/tight ends coach
- Syracuse (2011–2012), Offensive coordinator/Quarterbacks/tight ends coach
- Buffalo Bills (2013–2014), Offensive coordinator
- Jacksonville Jaguars (2015–2016), Quarterbacks coach
- Jacksonville Jaguars (2016–2018), Offensive coordinator
- Green Bay Packers (2019–present), Offensive coordinator
It’s worth noting Hackett worked with top Bears wideout Allen Robinson, from 2015-18. Robinson is set to be a free agent next year, but reuniting him with Hackett intrigues.
Hackett has also had impressive results working with Matt LaFleur up in Green Bay. In his first year with the Packers, in 2019, Green Bay put up 23.5 points and 345.5 total yards per game. Last season, the Packers led the league in points per game (31.8), and finished fifth in total offense (389.0 yards per game). This year, Green Bay’s offense has taken a slight dip (23.6 points and 355.0 total yards per game), but they still find a way to put points on the board in critical situations.
There are other attractive HC candidates for the Bears out there (Cowboys OC Kellen Moore and Bills OC Brian Daboll are at the top of the list), but developing QB Justin Fields needs to be the team’s top priority — and the Bears need a head coach with a proven track record when it comes to developing quarterbacks. Hackett has been impressive, but he may not be the best choice to replace Nagy, because he has yet to show he can help QBs grow and get better. We’ll see what happens, but the Bears may be better served looking elsewhere, if or when they move on.