Skip to main content

Matt Nagy Hands Play-Calling Duties to Bill Lazor

In a shocking move, Bears coach Matt Nagy gave up play-calling duties for Monday night's game with the Minnesota Vikings and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor will take over the assignment.

Two years ago Matt Nagy won coach of the year, then took all of his game plan sheets from the 2018 season and put them on the wall in one room of his house as a sort of wall paper.

If the Bears eventually attain similar success this season, it's a good bet his own game plans won't cover a wall let alone a room.

In desperation due to a stymied offense, Nagy has turned over play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor for Monday night's game against the Minnesota Vikings.

"It allows me to really look at all three phases from the head coaching position you know and focus on that," Nagy said. "I've been a part of this before, this situation at other teams, and really have focused on the positive that has come from it.

"So you know I'm excited to let Bill take this over and he has experience in this role, I think he's going to do a great job and it's something that for us its going to be something that we all just decided together like 'hey let's go.' I think it shows the belief too that I have and that we have in the coaching staff."

Nagy had taken over play-calling duties in Kansas City when coach Andy Reid was in a slump in 2017 and the Chiefs went on to the playoffs.

However, calling plays had been Nagy's real love and it's almost difficult to picture him not calling them.

"Is it hard to do? Absolutely," Nagy said. "I'd be lying to every one of you guys if I told you that this is easy. It's not easy.

"It's one of my favorite parts of coaching. I love calling plays. I love it. I love it. Is it permanent, like you were asking me before? No, it's not permanent. But guess what? If this is what's best for the team, then that's what I'm gonna do. We need to do what's best for us, not what's best for Matt Nagy. That's where I'm at. I'm excited about it, you know, looking forward to it."

He almost wondered aloud what he'll do with himself during the game.

"No. 1, I am a Type-A personality and there is a lot of that control part to me," Nagy admitted. "That's never going to change, that's always me. But in that situation, what we're doing and how we're doing it, Bill knows and our coaches know that this is their opportunity and this is Bill's opportunity to do what he wants to do and call what he wants to call."

When Nagy said it's not permanent, he categorized this as a one-week trial with the possibility it can continiue.

"Nothing's changed in regards to what I do with teaching the plays, what I do with being out there at practice," Nagy said. "All that stuff. The team meetings. None of that's changed.

"The first time it will really hit me is going to be on Monday night. That will be the first time and, again, it'll be different. But it’s where we're at."

Read More

The Bears are last in rushing, 29th in offense and next to last in yards per play. So it's not surprising from that end.

What was surprising was Nagy insisted earlier in the week he wouldn't tell anyone.

"I've said to you [media] the last couple of days keeping it internal and a lot of that was for really the idea for us to collaborate as to where we're at and how can we be better as a staff, how can we be better as a team and as you all know, you know it's very, very important for me to make sure that I'm doing everything that I possibly can to make the best decision for the Chicago Bears," Nagy said. "And I think right now that's where we're at."

One surprise aspect of this is Nagy didn't call a meeting to tell his players. He had held meetings in the past for the team over various things, including the racial strife in Kenosha, Wis. and Minnesota. He said he told some key individuals about it.

Another surprise is if there is one team Nagy has been able to call plays against, it's the Minnesota Vikings. The Bears are 4-0 against the Vikings since Nagy arrived.

"You get a feel and you understand, 'OK, this is where our offense is at right now,' and we've been struggling and for different reasons," Nagy said. "I don't think it's one particular reason, but if there's something that can help spark us, or sometimes it's just a changeup.

"It's like bringing in, for instance, a different style pitcher. You have one pitcher that throws one way, now you have another pitcher that throws another way. Sometime change can be good in that regard, so again, none of it was for a particular reason other than we've just been struggling and I feel like it's the best thing for this team."

Lazor has called plays for the Dolphins and Bengals as offensive coordinator.

"That role is only fun when you're moving the ball and scoring points," Lazor said. "That's for sure."

The Bengals on offense in 2017 finished last in the league on offense. Lazor took over the play-calling chores after two games when Ken Zampese was fired. Before that Lazor was the quarterbacks coach. 

The Bengals had nine points in the first two games but then Lazor took over and they had 20 or more in eight of their next 10 games. They still finished last in offense and had 14 points total in their final two games. 

In 2018 under Lazor, the Bengals finished 26th in offense.

"I think every year that you're in is a little bit different," Lazor said. "And that I do think that was, yah know, the situation where someone gets fired midseason, I've been in a couple of those and they're not fun.

"So I probably remember some of the human side of that, of the people who you were working with who get let go and having to push through that. So it was really a unique situation."

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven