Where Matt Nagy ranks in Chicago Bears head coach history

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·9 min read
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  • Chicago Bears
    Chicago Bears
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Minnesota Vikings
    Minnesota Vikings
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Matt Nagy
    Matt Nagy
    American football coach
  • George Halas
    George Halas
    American football player, coach, and team owner (1895-1983)
  • Mike Ditka
    Mike Ditka
    Former American football player
  • Lovie Smith
    Lovie Smith
    American football player and coach
  • Marc Trestman
    Marc Trestman
    Gridiron football coach

Where Nagy ranks in Bears head coaching history originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Matt Nagy draws out so much vitriol from Bears fans, you’d think he’s the worst coach in franchise history. It’s undeniable his tenure was a disappointment, from the highs of winning the NFC North and a Coach of the Year award in 2018, to a losing record just three seasons later. He was unable to develop Mitchell Trubisky into a franchise quarterback, and the promise of his explosive offense never took off.

RELATED: Hoge's 10 Bears head coaching candidates to watch

But Nagy is also one of only three Bears coaches in the last 50 years to finish with more wins than losses. Scroll on to see where Nagy ranks among all Bears head coaches, in terms of winning percentage. All historic records drawn from Pro Football Reference, but all win percentages have been changed to modern win percentages.

No. 16: Abe Gibron (1972-1974)

Record: 11-30-1, 0.274

Gibron finished his playing career with the Bears in 1958 and 1959. Thirteen years later, he began his head coaching career with the team. After three-straight last place finishes in the NFC Cental, Chicago ended up being the final stop in Gibron’s NFL head-coaching career, too.

No. 15: John Fox (2015-2017)

Record: 14-34, 0.292

Fox was Ryan Pace’s first head coaching hire, and the duo was tasked with cleaning up the mess left behind by Marc Trestman and Phil Emery. The roster was in shambles and the locker room had gone sideways. While Fox wasn’t able to lead the team to many wins, he earned credit for building a respectable culture back at Halas Hall.

No. 14: Jim Dooley (1968-1971)

Record: 20-36, 0.357

Dooley was placed in the unenviable position of taking over head coaching duties when George Halas moved to the front office for good. In Dooley’s first season, the team started 1-4 before turning things around with a four-game winning streak. However, any hope of a playoff push was ruined when star running back Gale Sayers suffered the first of his two devastating knee injuries. Things were never the same, as the Bears followed a 7-7 season in ‘68 by going 1-13, 6-8 and 6-8 the following three years.

No. 13: Marc Trestman (2013-2014)

Record: 13-19, .406

After firing the defensive-minded Lovie Smith, the Bears went out on a limb by hiring an offensive guru to try to finally unleash Jay Cutler’s potential as a franchise quarterback. Initially it looked like a great move as the team started Trestman’s first year going 3-0, averaging 31.7 points per game, with Cutler completing 67.3% of passes with six touchdowns and three interceptions. But the wheels quickly fell off, ultimately leading to incredible locker room drama. There were fights at practice that led to a suspension for Martellus Bennett, rumors of holding star players to different standards, and ultimately the discovery that offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer had anonymously criticized Cutler. Trestman’s two seasons as head coach are tied for second-shortest stint with Paddy Driscoll.

No. 12: Dave Wannstedt (1993-1998)

Record: 40-56, .417

Another man put in the unenviable position of following a Chicago icon. Wannstedt was hired to replace Mike Ditka in 1993. His team did pull off the miraculous feat of qualifying for the playoffs一 and even winning a playoff game一 after a fourth place finish in the NFC Central in 1994. But after that, Wannstedt’s teams had five losing seasons to one winning season.

No. 11: Dick Jauron (1999-2003)

Record: 35-45, .438

The man who succeeded Wanny also appears next in the Bears’ win percentage standings. Jauron oversaw Brian Urlacher’s Defensive Rookie of the Year season, and Anthony Thomas’ Offensive Rookie of the Year season. His time is highlighted by a 13-3 campaign in 2001 when Bears won their first division title in over a decade. But that year proved to be an outlier as the team could never find their answer at quarterback, turning to the likes of Chris Chandler, Kordell Stewart and rookie Rex Grossman to try to lead an anemic offense.

No. 10: Neill Armstrong (1978-1981)

Record: 30-34, .469

Armstrong came to Chicago after having a hand in building the Purple People Eaters as a Vikings assistant coach from 1970-1977, and he did help restore the Bears defense to some of its former glory. But despite being the beneficiary of some of Walter Payton’s best seasons, the offense never ranked higher than 17th in the league during his tenure. The team peaked with a second-place finish in the division in 1979.

No. 9: Jack Pardee (1975-1977)

Record: 20-22, .476

After leading the Florida Blazers to the one and only World Bowl in the World Football League, the Bears gave Pardee his first opportunity to coach in the NFL. Pardee’s teams steadily improved each of his three seasons, culminating in the Bears making the playoffs in 1977, which was the franchise’s first postseason berth since winning the NFL Championship in 1963. Walter Payton also won MVP that season. But after the successful season, Pardee quit to take the head coaching job in Washington, where he had played for three seasons.

No. 8: Matt Nagy (2018-2021)

Record: 34-31, 0.523

Interestingly, Nagy falls smack dab in the middle of the Bears’ head coaching standings, in terms of winning percentage. That is largely buoyed by an incredible 2018 campaign, which had the Bears feeling like legitimate Super Bowl contenders. But after that year, Nagy’s offense never found its footing, finishing 29th, 22nd and 27th in the league in points scored in the successive seasons. Nagy’s tenure in Chicago will likely be remembered by his failure to develop Mitchell Trubisky, the promise of Justin Fields, the dominating defense in 2018, and of course, the double doink.

No. 7: Lovie Smith (2004-2012)

Record: 81-63, .563

Smith came to Chicago after acting as the Rams defensive coordinator and Buccaneers linebackers coach, and he brought the Tampa 2 defense一 which he picked up from Tony Dungy一  with him. With Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs in the middle, his variation on the Cover 2 defense thrived. The highlight of Smith’s tenure is 2006 when the Bears made it to the Super Bowl, but lost to none other than Smith’s former head coach and mentor, Dungy. Smith will always have the honor of being the first Black coach to lead a team to the Super Bowl though, as he beat Dungy to the historic distinction by a few hours. In all, Smith oversaw three division titles, and was close to earning a second Super Bowl berth in 2010, too. He was fired after a 10-6 season, and the Bears have only reached double-digits wins once since then.

No. 6: Paddy Driscoll (1956-1957)

Record: 14-9-1, .604

Evanston native Paddy Driscoll was a star quarterback for both the Chicago Cardinals and Chicago Bears. In 1941, 12 years after his playing career was done, Driscoll returned to the Bears to act as George Halas’ assistant coach. Driscoll remained in that role for 15 seasons before Halas stepped away from coaching, for the third time. Then, Driscoll became head coach and led the Bears to an NFL Championship game in his first season, but the team was blown out by Giants 47-7. In 1958, Halas decided he wasn’t done coaching after all, and Driscoll moved to the front office.

No. 5: Mike Ditka (1982-1992)

Record: 106-62, .631

Da Coach. Ditka’s ‘85 Bears have one of the most iconic legacies in NFL history, in part due to Ditka’s larger than life persona. Everyone remembers the ‘stache, the cigars, the sweater vest and the middle finger. But Ditka instilled an incredibly tough and gritty culture in the Bears locker room that took them to their one and only Super Bowl title. He led the team to six NFC Central championships in his 11 seasons and won Coach of the Year honors twice. Ditka was fired after a tumultuous 5-11 season in 1992 that featured controversy for him reaming out quarterback Jim Harbaugh on the sidelines, shouting at fans and tirades with the media.

Nos. 3 and 4: Hunk Anderson and Luke Johnsos: (1942-1945)

Record: 23-11-2, .667

George Halas stepped down five games into the 1942 season to join the Navy and fight in WWII. While he served overseas, Anderson and Johnsos took over as co-head coaches and enjoyed immediate success. The team went 14-1-1 from the time they took over through the 1943 season and they earned two NFL Championship berths, winning in 1943 but losing in 1942. Afterwards, the duo was less successful, and was eventually replaced by Halas again when Halas was released from duty.

No. 2: Ralph Jones (1930-1932)

Record: 24-10-7, .671

Jones was the first head coach to lead the Bears other than George Halas, after Halas retired to step away from the game… for the first time. During Jones’ time there was no NFL postseason per-se, but in 1932 the Portsmouth Spartans and the Bears each finished with the same win percentage. The teams had tied each time they played each other of the course of the year, so a “playoff” game was concocted to determine the champion. The Bears won, and the course of the NFL was changed forever.

No. 1: George Halas (1920-1929, 1933-1942, 1946-1955, 1958-1967)

Record: 318-148-31, .671

No man is more important to the Bears, or football as we know it. Obviously renowned for creating the NFL, Papa Bear Halas’ 497 games coached represent over a third of all the games in the Bears’ 100+ year history. No man has coached more football games than Halas and no man has more NFL Championship titles than Halas (although Curly Lambeau and Bill Belichick have tied him with six). In his 40 full seasons leading the team, the Bears only had six losing seasons. A truly incredible career.

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