MINNEAPOLIS — To the end, Matt Nagy stayed true to himself. As it turned out, that’s what he does best.
After a season-long inquisition of denying reports of his firing as the Bears head coach and a never-ending flurry of raw, pointed questions about his struggling offense and his failing team, Nagy wasn’t about to crack after a 31-17 loss to the Vikings on Sunday put the Bears out of their misery.
With a hint of resignation about his imminent firing Monday after a 6-11 season, Nagy acknowledged the reality of the Bears’ record in his four seasons, but accentuated the positive and pointed toward a bright future with or without him.
“Whatever has happened in my four years here — good and bad — there’s a reason for all of it. There’s a reason why this is happening right now,” Nagy said. “As a leader you’ve got to make sure you stay positive. You’ve got to make sure you lead and you’ve got to use it to make yourself better.
“Regardless of what happens … I promise you I’m gonna do that. I’m going to let this refine me, not define me.”
As has been the case throughout the trying season, Nagy never bristled in his post-game press conference. He wasn’t ready for introspection or for analyzing what went wrong in his four seasons. He knows he didn’t get the job done. But he doesn’t think he and general manager Ryan Pace burned the place to the ground.
“There’s a really good franchise quarterback here that’s going to be good for a long time,” Nagy said. “And both Ryan and I were a part of that.”
No doubt, rookie quarterback Justin Fields could be a lasting legacy of the Nagy era — though any future success Fields has likely will be seen as a knock on Nagy more than anything. But Nagy didn’t stop there, claiming linebacker Roquan Smith, running back David Montgomery, wide receiver Darnell Mooney, tight end Cole Kmet and tackles Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom as current or future success stories he helped write.
“There’s a really bright future for our team,” Nagy said. “Roquan Smith — he’s only getting better and better. For me, selfishly with Ryan, that was a first draft pck of mine that I’ve ever been a part — where you’re there with Ryan doing it — so I’m proud to see him grow.
“You look at a guy like Darnell Mooney, Cole Kmet and now you’ve got these young tackles — and there’s a really good youthfulness to the offense and I think there’s still some time. You’ve got Justin, you’ve got other pieces.”
After four seasons, it’s Nagy’s right to accentuate the positive, but his outlook ranges from reality to fantasy land. He just needs more time..
“When you look at what’s gone right with the players that we have in this building right now, I think we all understand that isn’t something that just happens in one or two years,” Nagy said. “When you draft a player, it takes a little bit of time to get that player going. And when you draft a lot of players together, it takes several years.
“And now all of a sudden you get to the point where they’re rocking and rolling because they’re now three or four years into it — and that’s where we’re at right now.”
Nagy believes this group is ready to take off — good football players, great leaders, high-character guys — the kind of players you win the Super Bowl with.
“The more of those you have, you win a lot of games. And then you have an opportunity to get in the dance and win the whole thing. That’s what this team has right now. It’s there, and that’s what I’m selfishly proud of, with Ryan. And the excitement of Justin at quarterback, because Justin’s going to have a very bright future.”