Where it all went wrong for Bears with Matt Nagy and Mitchell Trubisky

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In 2018, former Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was a Pro-Bowl alternate and former head coach Matt Nagy was awarded Coach of the Year. It was a season that felt magical, as the Bears went 12-4 and won the NFC North. It was a match made by the football gods – or so we thought.

The Bears had a young quarterback in his second season and the hot coordinator turned head coach. Everything was going right. Trubisky wasn’t putting up the same stats as Patrick Mahomes, but the team was successful enough where it wasn’t the media’s biggest story.

The story was, Nagy is a genius who turned Trubisky’s struggling rookie season into a fantastic second year. It was comparable to two teams. The 2017 Rams or 2017 Eagles. All three teams had young offensive coaches with young rising quarterbacks.

Funny enough, in 2021, all three quarterbacks, Trubisky, Goff, and Wentz, played on different teams. But where did things go wrong for Nagy and Trubisky? How far does the divide go?

Where it all started

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According to Adam Jahns and Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic, it goes as far back as 2019. Though Trubisky wasn’t officially benched until Week 3 of the 2020 season, the quarterback and head coach weren’t getting along as early as Week 3 of 2019.

The world was introduced to both Nagy’s frustration with Trubisky early in the 2019 season, where he chewed him out during a Monday Night Football game against Washington. It’s fair to assume the two might have had issues prior to that game. It just wasn’t highlighted until it was seen in prime time.

It was a big story, but both Nagy and Trubisky assured the media that there was no problem between the two.

“I have a heated side to me, and that’s OK. Mitch does, too,” Nagy said referring to the incident. “It’s because we care.”

Trubisky stuck up for his coach saying, “I love it. I love it. I got fired up. That’s what you want from your head coach. You want passion.”

Everything was fine, right? No.

The rift deepens

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As the Bears continued to struggle in 2019, Trubisky played through a torn left labrum. He wore a harness to protect his shoulder and even admitted after the season that it was uncomfortable, and he believed it impacted his accuracy, for the worse.

Here’s where the story gets interesting. Trubisky was supposed to meet with Nagy to discuss the 2019 season once it concluded. Trubisky had notes of what he wanted to discuss about the offense. A source told The Athletic that Nagy was a no-show at the meeting and “Trubisky left his notes” where the meeting was supposed to take place.

During the offseason going into the 2020 NFL season, Trubisky did have surgery to repair his injured left shoulder. In rehab, he was working on his throwing motions.

It was reported that Trubisky’s trainer saw structural issues with his right shoulder, which was injured in the 2018 season. That could have been the root cause of his accuracy issues.

During the offseason, the Bears traded for Nick Foles to add some competition for Trubisky. Trubisky worked his entire offseason on fixing both shoulders to get ready for camp. Trubisky won the quarterback competition, but his leash was very short.

Trubisky saw the writing on the wall though. It wasn’t only Foles who would say “this offense isn’t working.” Trubisky was smart enough to know it, too. He just expressed it a different way than Foles did.

Another source told The Athletic that Trubisky would be in the middle of camp and admit that “none of this stuff is working,” and would point out the issues in the offense. Nagy and his “trust the process mindset” didn’t work. Trusting the process highlighted the same offensive issues, that Trubisky, instead of his coach, was blamed for.

The turning point

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

In 2020, even at 2-0, “Matt Nagy wasn’t happy,” according to The Athletic. Trubisky made some throws that annoyed Nagy. They were considered to be situational “errors” where Nagy wanted the ball thrown somewhere else.

While watching game film of the Week 2 win against the Giants, Nagy chewed out Trubisky in front of the entire team.

The play that annoyed Nagy was a three-route concept that went to tight end, Cole Kmet. The play had Allen Robinson running an out, Darnell Mooney running a fade, and Tarik Cohen on a swing route. The play was supposed to end up with Trubisky finding the fade. Even though this drive ended up in a passing touchdown to Mooney, Nagy was annoyed.

Robinson was open and instead of hitting him, Trubisky went to Kmet.

Nagy proceeded to “chastise” Trubisky, calling him “uncoachable” and not throwing the ball to the right receiver. This reportedly bummed Trubisky out and bummed out his teammates. Foles stated that “Mitch was really liked by his teammates.” This could have been the turning point that turned the locker room against Nagy.

For Trubisky being “uncoachable,” him calling out problems and trying to fix things with the offense doesn’t agree with Nagy’s statement. Nagy was done with Trubisky. The quarterback wanted to find success in Chicago and fix things, but it wasn’t mutual.

A fresh start

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Trubisky, when joining the Bills, said it was nice to be somewhere where he was wanted. Some fans took that as a jab at the Bears, but really, it was a jab at how Nagy treated him.

Trubisky wasn’t taken seriously by Nagy. He wasn’t wanted. Nagy failed Trubisky, it wasn’t the other way around.

Even with his faults, Trubisky cared about finding success with the Bears. He had a coach that was unapproachable and stubborn. Missing a meeting with your quarterback, who wanted to make the offense better, is unacceptable.

So, to the outside world, Trubisky looked like the issue in Chicago. He was painted as a bust and someone who wasn’t smart enough to learn Nagy’s offense. Maybe it was just Nagy’s offense didn’t work.

Nagy is now done coaching in Chicago, and Trubisky is searching for a second chance to be an NFL starter. In the right spot, maybe he’ll have success. But under Nagy, no matter how many seasons they would have had, repeating their 2018 success would have been likely impossible.

What makes this story even crazy is how Trubisky, when he returned in 2020 after being benched, saved Nagy’s job for one more season. He won three of the final four games and got Chicago into the playoffs. If Foles never got injured, Trubisky wouldn’t have been back on the field. Without that, Nagy would have (likely) been fired following the 2020 season.

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