Friday, June 14, 2024

Deep Dive: Is Matt Nagy actually underrated?

Matt Nagy is one of the more polarising figures in the current Chicago Bears setup. Hailed as an offensive genius there are few Bears fans out there that would subscribe to that way of thinking any more. But in a recent PFF video on YouTube they made the claim that Nagy was underrated.

Now I’m a big fan of PFF and you will likely recognise some of their stats later in this piece and throughout articles we’ve put out, but to me this seemed like an insane claim. After my levels of incredulity returned to a mildly outraged state I decided to put this argument to the test.


Over his three-year tenure as the Bears HC Matt Nagy has posted a career record of 28-20 with one winning seasons, and two playoff appearances. It’s save to say if the playoffs hadn’t been extended in 2020 Chicago would’ve missed out at 8-8 but let’s go with it.

In those three seasons the Bears offense has ranked 21st, 29th, and finally 26th. Not a great look for an offensive genius. In 2018 powered by the leagues number one ranked defence, the Bears scored the 9th most points in the league, while ranking 29th and 22nd in subsequent seasons.

Now clearly Nagy’s tenure has coincided with that of Mitchell Trubisky and you could argue he has been pulled down a little by him, and then the subsequent acquisition of Nick Foles. But Foles was Nagy’s guy in 2020 and even when it was clear Foles wasn’t working Nagy stuck with him until injury hit.


Offensive grading by PFF is an interesting way to look at a head coaches performance. A combination of all the players grades and whether you have put those players in the best spots to succeed or have just tried to shoehorn what you have into your system.

Now PFF grades aren’t for everyone and they don’t tell the whole story, they are merely a scouting tool so we can get an idea of how one group sees things.

In 2018, Nagy’s first year on the job, PFF grading the Bears offence 72.3, good for 23rd in the league. Remember this is the year the Bears went 12-4 and should’ve won a playoff game. Still the offence was below average according to PFF.

In 2019, a 66.1 grade (27th) and finally 73.5 (23rd) in 2020. In fact if we break down the grades into passing and rushing grades only once has a unit graded in the top twenty in the league and that was the rushing unit last year ranking 14th with an 81.0 grade. Offensive genius type grades? I think not.

Now the play calling is one of the greatest issues Bears fans have with Nagy. Running the ball more was one of the mantras of social media in 2020 and that’s borne out by the grades. But while the players may not always have been the best in the league (not close in some cases) there is a distinct lack of getting the most out of the players you have.

We also see a negative trend when we look at average depth of target, or the average air yards of a QB’s attempts. Since the successful campaign of 2018, the Bears ADOT has declined by a whole yard from 9.3 yards per pass (8th best) to 8.3 yards for Nick Foles (21st) and 8.2 yards for Trubisky (24th).

While poor line play can certainly impact this, it has a massively negative impact on the overall performance of an offense. Conservative play-calling has stifled the offence for a long time and this shows dramatically here.


We all know Matt Nagy’s record against the Packers (1-5) is atrocious and appalling. But how does he perform r relative to his opponents overall?

vs. DIV2-44-25-1
vs WINNING RECORD1-62-64-1
vs PLAYOFF TEAMS1-72-52-1
vs LOSING RECORD7-25-28-3
WIN% OF TEAMS BEATEN0.3360.3750.411
WIN % OF TEAMS LOST TO0.6410.6070.453

So during his Bears tenure Matt Nagy is 7-13 against teams with a winning record. In his best season, of his 12 wins only 2 came against playoff teams, and 2 of his wins against teams over .500 came against the 8-7-1 Vikings.

An underrated coach would raise the level of his team, and put in performances against better teams in my humble opinion and would not have a record of 5-13 against playoff teams.

Now, again, some of this can be down to substandard quarterback play but the worrying trend is that Matt Nagy’s performances against better teams has been getting worse when he should know his own players better and can factor his genius to work with their strengths.

With Justin Fields now in the building the clock is ticking on Nagy to begin to perform. But so far, Matt Nagy isn’t underrated he’s exactly what he seems to be and that’s under-performing.

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