The Chicago Bears take on the Detroit Lions for a Thanksgiving matchup Thursday, but the game comes in the midst of a bizarre week filled with rumors that could have a big impact on the team.
Here's a look back at everything that's happened this week and what fans should know heading into the Bears-Lions Thanksgiving showdown:
Could Matt Nagy Be Fired?
In the middle of a short week of preparation, a bombshell hit the internet Tuesday morning when Patch.com reporter Mark Konkol reported that Matt Nagy had already been informed that Thursday’s game against the Lions would be his last as head coach of the Bears.
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According to Konkol, the Bears told Nagy that he was going to be fired on Monday.
During Nagy's regularly scheduled meeting with the media the same day, Nagy claimed the report was "inaccurate" while touting his "great communication" with leadership within the Bears organization.
Nagy also noted he has not addressed the report with the players, saying they've been great.
Special teams coach Chris Tabor, who served as head coach while Nagy was away from the team in the COVID-19 protocols, gave his support for Nagy.
“Coach Nagy is our head coach. I want to work for this guy now, OK? Love him to death and he’s the head football coach of the Chicago Bears and he’s gonna lead us to a win on Thursday. I believe that deep down in my heart,” Tabor said Tuesday at Halas Hall. “So, to me there’s no story at all. Fair enough?”
It's worth noting the Bears have never fired a coach midseason before in their 101-year history.
But the hot seat is getting even hotter. The Bears are in a long losing streak for the second consecutive season. The offense has continued to struggle despite Nagy's offensive resume.
It would be a quick fall from grace for Nagy, who was hired in 2018, led the Bears to their first NFC North title since 2008, and won the Coach of the Year award.
If he is fired after Thanksgiving, Nagy will finish his Bears tenure with a winning record. He currently stands at 31-27.
What's the Status of the Bears' Locker Room?
In the moments between the heartbreaking loss to the Ravens, and the shocking report that the team was set to fire Nagy following their Thanksgiving game, there was another tweet which created quite a buzz around the city.
While that’s a juicy report on its own, it carried even more weight considering Schultz’s connection to Robinson. Over the summer, Schultz and Robinson co-hosted an NBA playoffs podcast, and given that relationship, people made the obvious leap that Robinson was one of the Bears who told Schultz there was unrest among the ranks at Halas Hall.
“Stuff like that is very tough,” Robinson said. “Definitely is. It's tough because obviously, me and him having a podcast, putting me in a very vulnerable situation and stuff like that. That conversation, it was definitely had.”
Robinson said he had no input into the tweet and said when he and Schultz have spoken, it’s been purely about basketball. He also made sure to say that if he had anything to say, he’d say it himself.
“You guys know me. Anything that I wanted to get across has come from me, and it'll always be that way. It'll never change. Anything I want to get accomplished, I want to say, I'm a grown-ass man. I can get stuff done myself.
“I have my social platforms. I have my own voice. I sit in front of you guys every week and talk. There's nothing I ever need to hide behind someone else to get out there.”
Tashaun Gipson also denied that there were problems in the locker room.
“I think everybody in the locker room love playing for Nagy,” Gipson said.
Even with rumors buzzing through Chicago, Gipson said he and his teammates were remaining focused on the task at hand, not the outside noise.
“I don't see any distractions on that tip of guys talking about what they heard or what's going on,” Gipson said. “We're just itching to win a football game. And I think that's more so of the conversations that's being had.
“The energy is business as usual.”
What Could Thursday's Game Mean for Nagy and the Bears?
Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said he didn’t know anything about the report of Nagy’s impending firing, but offered up this anecdote:
“I’ve been in the locker room before a game when a very well known national insider announced our coach was not going to be back. Players were on their phones getting messages. I’m not saying that’s the only reason we lost that day, but we played like crap that day. And, at the end of the year, not only was he not fired, but he got a new contract. And we’re still waiting for the apology from that national insider. So the No. 1 thing I can do is my job, which is beat the Lions, period.”
Lazor didn’t mention the team or the reporter, but the offensive coordinator was part of the Cincinnati Bengals staff on Dec. 17, 2017 when ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported then-head coach Marvin Lewis was “planning to leave the Bengals after the season to pursue opportunities elsewhere.” The Bengals lost to the Vikings 34-7 that day, but managed to win their final two games of the season and Lewis ultimately signed a two-year extension after the season. He was fired following the 2018 season.
On the other hand, if Nagy really had not talked to ownership this week, that apparently changed after he talked to the media Tuesday.
The Chicago Tribune reported he met with ownership before the team’s second walk-through in the afternoon, informed the team of that meeting and then canceled the rest of the meetings scheduled Tuesday.
Regardless of the accuracy of the Patch.com report, this isn’t the type of Tuesday that occurs during a short week for a franchise that is under control.
If Nagy indeed canceled the remaining meetings scheduled for Tuesday afternoon and evening, it’s a stunning move with only three days to prepare for the Lions. There are no full practices before these Thursday games so all of the mental work matters.
Nagy — and especially Tabor — were put in a tough spot by the way in which the organization handled a significant story — true or not. As former Bears long snapper Patrick Mannelly said perfectly on Twitter Tuesday night, the organization did not do its job to help the Bears beat the Lions.
What About Injuries?
The team announced that Akiem Hicks will not play due to an ankle injury that also kept him out of the Ravens game.
In addition, Justin Fields has been ruled out with his ribs injury and Damien Williams has been ruled out with a calf injury. That means it will be Nick Foles backing up Andy Dalton in Detroit, and it will be Khalil Herbert who comes in if David Montgomery needs a breather.
Beyond those three players, the Bears also listed Allen Robinson as doubtful and Eddie Jackson as questionable. Both of those guys are dealing with hamstring injuries. Robinson was a “DNP” in all three days of the Bears’ “estimated” injury report, while Jackson was “limited” all three days. It’s an “estimated” injury report because the Bears only held walkthroughs during the short week. Interestingly it’s the same designations that each Robinson and Jackson carried into the Ravens game, and neither man played.