Down but not out, Matt Nagy can still save his job as Bears coach

Nagy's case to return in 2021 would be strengthened by a strong finish.

(670 The Score) Bears coach Matt Nagy pumped his right fist toward the sideline as running back David Montgomery high-stepped his way into the end zone for an 80-yard score. Nagy did it once more, perhaps a release of many emotions.

With each of the previous six straight losses the Bears endured, Nagy heard the calls for his firing grow louder. A man who first broke into this industry as a coaching intern with the Eagles in 2009 and had risen the ranks to head coach was left to wonder what's next.

It's why Nagy was so excited as Montgomery set the tone in the Bears' 36-7 win against the Texans at Soldier Field on Sunday. It marked the beginning of Nagy's response to the pressure he faces and the fight to save his job.

"It's just a start," Nagy said when asked what the Bears' victory meant.

For Nagy's future, perhaps it held off his end.

The firing of Nagy seemed inevitable if the Bears' losing streak dragged on from six games to seven, eight, nine or 10. That kind of skid would've represented a coach losing control of his team and force change at Halas Hall.

But if the Bears finish the season by playing strong complementary football and fighting for a playoff spot, it could mean Nagy returns for a fourth season in Chicago. At the least, Nagy hasn't lost the Bears despite their difficult season.

"We like the man that’s in charge ahead of us, our head coach," veteran linebacker Danny Trevathan said. "So, when we go out there, we’ve got to make him look good."

After the Bears' recent losses to the Packers and Lions, each painful in their own way, Nagy maintained he wasn't focused on his job security. But it's only human nature to be aware of it. A man who rose up under the mentorship of future Hall of Fame coach Andy Reid was left to handle professional adversity that he hadn't faced before.

Nagy returned to the Bears after their sixth straight loss with a renewed focus and the intention of salvaging the final four games of the regular season.

“We all know what we signed up for when we chose to be in this profession," Bears running backs coach Charles London said. "I thought Matt actually did a great job of staying even-keeled. He didn’t change anything. He was who he was. Everybody knew the situation we were in and the saying was just enough is enough.

"I thought he did a great job of leading the team. I think a lot of times in situations like that, guys try to outside of themselves and try to do things they wouldn’t do. But I thought Matt stayed the course and guys responded."

Added quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo: "He's the same guy every day."

Change in some form still seems likely for the Bears (6-7), who need to win out in order to mark improvement from their 8-8 season in 2019 and also to position themselves for a playoff spot. Winning only two of the final three games would mean another .500 season and likely no playoff berth.

Bears chairman George McCaskey must first decide whether he views the team's demise in the last two seasons as the shared fault of Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace or if he views their roles separately. Pace is working in his sixth season leading the Bears' football operations and would need good fortune to make just a second playoff appearance in that span.

Pace tabbed Nagy as his second head coaching hire shortly after firing John Fox in January 2018. Nagy has two more seasons under contract with the Bears, while Pace has just 2021 remaining on his deal. All options should be on the table for McCaskey as he decides on the Bears' future.

Nagy's best chance to stay in Chicago is what was shown Sunday, with the Bears playing as a complete team. Their playoff hopes are slim, but they're still alive.

Nagy can redefine how he's evaluated as Bears coach and indeed make this just a start.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images