Why is Matt Nagy failing with the Bears? Look at what successful coaches in Chicago are doing.

  • Bears head coach Matt Nagy takes questions after losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh. The Steelers won 29-27.

    Bears head coach Matt Nagy takes questions after losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh. The Steelers won 29-27. Associated Press

Updated 11/14/2021 9:27 PM

The smoldering around Halas Hall eventually will be too relentless for Matt Nagy to overcome.

However, old age didn't prevent Tony La Russa from commanding respect from a talented and free-spirit White Sox team.


Billy Donovan once had cold feet moving from the University of Florida to the NBA, but his emphasis on an up-tempo offense and defense while utilizing role players effectively has invigorated the Bulls.

And James Wade's blueprint survived a seven-game losing streak to win an WNBA title with the Sky.

Those traits have elevated La Russa, Donovan and Wade above the rest of Chicago's pro sports leaders at a time when the fire pit scorched Jeremy Colliton's tenure as coach of the embarrassing Blackhawks and likely will leave Nagy's reign as Bears coach in ashes.

Strong-minded leaders such as George Halas, Mike Ditka, Phil Jackson and Ozzie Guillen led their respective teams to league titles, but the life of manager or coach, no matter how successful, has become more finite.

Nagy missed a chance for redemption after the Bears' politburo abused the word "collaboration" during their 2020 postseason presser in the same matter defenses will wear down Justin Fields after they insufficiently addressed offensive line and receiver depth issues.

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The maneuvering to draft Fields last April might have bought more time for general manager Ryan Pace. But a lack of offensive rhythm has persisted, thus reinforcing that the second coming of Andy Reid's offense won't crystallize during this regime.

In some cases, the coach or manager is left hung to dry.

The Cubs' regression can't be blamed entirely on since-departed manager Joe Maddon, although the overuse of closer Brandon Morrow during the first half of 2018 dented their chances of winning the National League Central.

In addition to the Bears' lack of depth, Pace's second-round pick of offensive tackle Teven Jenkins rates as a big swing and miss for now, given Jenkins' history of back issues at Oklahoma State and surgery last August that necessitated the signing of 39-year-old Jason Peters.

It doesn't hurt to have a sponsor, as Colliton found out the hard way last month as he was terminated shortly after GM Stan Bowman resigned in the wake of the sexual abuse case involving a video coach prior to Colliton's arrival. Bowman gave Colliton a two-year extension only last January.


But there are specific building blocks a leader must possess in order to be successful. One is the ability to lead, no matter how popular or unpopular his decisions are received. La Russa, 77, reminded veterans like Lance Lynn that he had an office and his star pitcher had a locker after Lynn sided with Yermin Mercedes' decision to defy La Russa's orders and swung on a 3-0 pitch in the ninth inning of a blowout win.

As GM, Wade blended players he inherited three years ago with key additions, led by Candace Parker. His vision for an up-tempo style was fulfilled with a WNBA title. Wade received a four-year extension before the 2021 season, and his title will make it easier for players to buy into his plan.

The other building block is improvement. Unfortunately for Colliton, the Blackhawks stagnated and were willing to eat the balance of a two-year extension he received in January.

At some point, the White Sox will need to display convincing improvement under La Russa's watch.

Winning the American League Central despite an array of key players was a partial testament to La Russa's use of an entire roster, particularly rookies such as Andrew Vaughn in previously foreign positions such as left field.

But winning the World Series remains the lone goal, as GM Rick Hahn intimated during a conference call last week.

Although Cubs manager David Ross is expected to receive an extension before the 2022 season, he will be fairly evaluated during the balance of his contract -- especially after tweaks on the coaching staff. Ross did a masterful job of imploring his players to follow COVID protocols during a 60-game season that culminated in a National League Central title.

The 2021 roster teardown was essential, but the growth of the younger players in the future will dictate whether Ross will gain the full faith of a La Russa or Donovan, or slide into danger similar to Nagy.

•Twitter: @MDGonzales

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