1/10/22: One last loss for the road

Sunday's loss by the Bears was painful, but also perfect

1/10/22: One last loss for the road
(USA Today Sports)

Welcome to Midway Minute, the daily Chicago sports newsletter. Did someone forward you this? Join our list for free to get this email in your inbox.

Good morning, friends!

No Chicago team is in action today, which is just as well since nothing would've eclipsed the news coming out of Halas Hall, anyway.

Sunday's scores
Vikings 31, Bears 17
Mavericks 113, Bulls 99
Ohio State 95, Northwestern 87

Today's schedule
No games

A fitting end for Matt Nagy and the 2021 Bears

(USA Today Sports)

One final twist of the knife.

Only Matt Nagy could take a game that should've produced nothing more than a shrug and leave Bears fans the same color as the Vikings' purple jerseys.

I don't know how much we should get into the specifics of Sunday's 31-17 loss in Minnesota. The outcome was meaningless and it'll soon fade into the pile of embarrassing losses the franchise has accumulated these last four decades.

Just like Nagy's name will take an equal place among those Wannstedt, Jauron, Trestman and Fox whenever the official press release comes down today.  He was better than a few, no worse than the other and yes, I realize he won't be putting either when he's polishing up his resume.

Still, what a closing argument he's leaving here with us. Nagy spent the last three seasons proving he could f- - - up an automatic first down and he somehow still saved an exclamation point for his last contest.

The Vikings started Sunday's contest slow, spotting the Bears an 11-point lead by halftime. You could already see the goodbye columns and tweets for Nagy softened by a three-game winning streak on his way out.

"His team never quit," they would have read. "It just didn't work out."

But then the second half happened. The Vikings posted four touchdowns. The Bears kicked a field goal. Nagy and the Bears went for it on fourth-and-short on three different occasions with Andy Dalton dropping back each time.

The results: Two long sacks, a pick-six and plenty of questions about why Nagy wasn't employing his best offensive weapon. Would David Montgomery touching the ball have made a difference? What might've happened had the Bears cashed in for more than just one touchdown and a three-pack of Cairo Santos field goals?

Again, it was a meaningless game. The difference between 6-11 and 7-10 is nothing. But the repeated offensive failures and second-half collapse sharpened the need for Nagy to keep finding his why somewhere else.  

It seems certain that Nagy will be dismissed at some point today, maybe even before you read this newsletter.

The only question that remains is how George McCaskey shuffles around Ryan Pace and Ted Phillips in a manner to make it seem like he's doing something.

Maybe Pace hits the unemployment line in tandem with Nagy or maybe he's given some "football guy" title because someone needs to pick the next GM and head coach and George and Ted sure don't want to hold that hot potato (nor should they).

We'll talk more about the franchise's direction and decisions as they become apparent this week.

This morning is about Nagy, who will finish his Bears career with ...

  • A 34-31 regular-season record buoyed a 12-4 mark in 2018
  • The 2018 NFL Coach of the Year award
  • An 0-2 record in the postseason
  • A combined 8-20 record against teams that finished over .500
  • A 13-11 record in the NFC North, including a 1-7 performance against the Packers and a 7-1 mark against the Lions

As I said up top, it's a par for the course performance in the post-Ditka era. Nagy got one fewer win than Dick Jauron, but coached one fewer season. Dave Wannstedt had six more victories, but survived two more seasons than Nagy did.

Nagy had the misfortune of arriving in an era entirely controlled by social media's court of opinion. The angry desperation of a fanbase going on 40 years without a Super Bowl title didn't buy him much leeway, either.

Still, make no mistake: The epitaph on Nagy's Chicago career will always be that he was an overmatched coach who underproduced at almost every turn.

He proved that over a disappointing four-year run and underlined it once more for old time's sake on Sunday.

Who did the Bears beat for Matt Nagy's first win in 2018?

News and results

Bulls: Winning streak ends as tough week begins

Luka Doncic's triple-double (22-14-14) and a 113-99 decision end the Bulls' nine-game win streak. It was the first loss since December 11 for the Bulls, who are now 26-11 and still lead the Nets by 1.5 games for the East's top spot.

The upcoming week is a killer, though. The Pistons and Nets come through with a back-to-back on Tuesday and Wednesday and the Warriors come calling with Klay Thompson before the Bulls take a trip to Boston on Saturday night. OK to be hoping for a split?

1. Akiem Hicks wasn't at Halas Hall last week after a big argument with a coach during the Giants game. Good scoop by Adam Jahns. The Athletic

2. The Hawks' losing streak ended on Saturday night with Marc Andre-Fleury ("the most popular athlete in Las Vegas history") leading the way. Las Vegas Review-Journal

3. A look at the Sky's eight free agents and what big decisions the team needs to make. Swish Appeal

4. OU transfer Caleb Williams probably isn't coming to Illinois. But here's a case of why he should. Champaign Room

5. Bob Saget sang the National Anthem at a Sox game in 2012 and did an interview with Gene Honda beforehand. RIP to a legend.  YouTube

You've reached the end of Midway Minute!

If you enjoy this newsletter, you can ...
✍️ Become a supporting member and get extra perks
🍺 Buy us a coffee or beer
👍 Refer some friends and earn some cool Midway Minute swag
🔗 Recommend a link or story

Trivia answer
The Bears beat Seattle 24-17 on Monday Night Football in Week 2 after the opening week loss to the Packers at Lambeau.