Bears Clean House After 6-11 Season (Chicago, IL) — After a disappointing season, the Chicago Bears announced the firing of general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy.
No surprise to anyone, there was speculation for weeks Nagy would be relieved of his duties once the season ended. Coming off a pair of meager 8-8 seasons, ownership and fans were certainly expecting more. After being named AP NFL Coach of the Year following a 12-4 record in 2019, Nagy and the Bears weren’t able to have the same success again. Chicago lost 9 of their last 12 games, including 5 in a row going into Thanksgiving, and finished third in the NFC North with a 6-11 overall record.
The Bears compiled a 34-31 record under Nagy’s watch, but the offense struggled mightily. He was hired after being promoted to offensive coordinator by Andy Reid, and leading the high powered Kansas City offense, but was unable to duplicate the success he had with the Chiefs. In his first season Nagy revitalized the Bears offense, finishing with the 9th best scoring offense in the league.
However, it was truly the Khalil Mack led defense that propelled the Bears to the division title. Chicago finished the season tied for the third best record in the NFL but would lose in the first round of the playoffs to the Philadelphia Eagles. Fast forward, the offense completely floundered after that first season. Since then, Chicago’s offense has ranked at the bottom of league in almost every statistical category. The team’s scoring offense ranked No. 29 in 2019, No. 22 in 2020 and No. 27 this season.
Pace also deserves his share of the blame. In seven years as GM, Chicago went 48-65 and 0-2 in the playoffs. He will likely be remembered for trading up to draft Mitch Trubisky second overall while Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson were available. There’s also the 18 million he gave Mike Glennon and 10 million to Andy Dalton. Pace traded up again to draft Justin Fields at number 11 in the first round out of Ohio State in the 2021 NFL draft.
The jury is still out on Fields. He replaced Andy Dalton who went down with a knee injury against the Cincinnati Bengals in the second quarter on September 19th. Fields went on to appear in 12 games, and was 2-8 as a starter. He threw for 1,870 yards with seven touchdowns and ten interceptions. The rookie finished with a passer rating of 73.2. He also had two rushing touchdowns and was sacked 36 times.
Protecting The Field
Fields was the tenth most sacked quarterback this season, so addressing the offensive line, and finding a coach to develop the young quarterback should be a priority of the future GM. There’s also questions about the aging and declining defense. Khalil Mack ended the season with a foot injury, and Robert Quinn who will turn 32 in May had a record year with 18.5 sacks, and broke Hall of Famer Richard Dent’s single-season record set in 1984. It’s uncertain if Chicago will look to trade the veterans or bring them back to help bolster the defense going forward.
Then there’s a decision to be made on wide receiver Allen Robinson. The star receiver was unable to get a deal done with the organization last summer, so he played on the franchise tag this year, and was having a down season before being sidelined with an injury to his hamstring and testing positive for Covid-19. Speedy running back Tarik Cohen has recovered from a torn ACL and should provide a nice punch for an offense that was essentially inept this year.
The continual development of young players like linebacker Trevis Gipson and receiver Darnell Mooney provide a bright spot for Bears fans. Mooney, a second year receiver out of Tulane amassed over 1,000 receiving yards and caught 4 touchdowns.
Bears Chairman George McCaskey will be tasked at naming a new GM and finding the right coach to develop Justin Fields. There is said to be a search committee that will include McCaskey, Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian, Bears President and CEO Ted Phillips, vice president of player engagement LaMar “Soup” Campbell and Tanesha Wade, senior vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion.
FULL STATEMENT FROM RYAN PACE:
“I want to thank the Bears organization, especially Mrs. Virginia McCaskey, George H. McCaskey and Ted Phillips, for the last seven years. This is a first-class organization and my family and I enjoyed our time in Chicago. Today’s news is the tough part of our business but I am proud to have poured absolutely everything into making the Chicago Bears a better football team every single day since first stepping foot into Halas Hall. From the expansion of Halas Hall, to every staff hire, every roster move, every scouting trip, every draft pick was with a championship vision in mind.
To Matt Nagy and his family, thank you. Together the last four years we built a culture that persevered and a foundation that will catapult the organization into the next phase of success. Although we did not reach our ultimate goal, we accomplished a lot, most notably an NFC North title, two playoff berths, 19 Pro Bowlers and 6 All-Pro selections.
To the Players
To the players, I appreciate everything that you gave out on the field. I believe in each and every one of you and I know the talent is there to bring a championship to Chicago. To the entire football operations staff, I appreciate your dedication and tireless efforts during our time together. Your grind behind the scenes does not go unnoticed and the sacrifices are essential to the successes we have had together.
Bears fans, your passion is palpable daily. Through the wins and losses, it was our constant goal to deliver the championship you deserve. Thank you for making this city the best ‘home field advantage’ in the NFL.
Our family is from Illinois, went to college in Illinois and as Bears fans for life, we are proud to say that we are confident the future is bright for this team going forward.”
FULL STATEMENT FROM MATT NAGY:
“To the Chicago Bears organization – It was an honor to serve as your Head Coach over the past four seasons. I want to thank Ted Phillips, George H. McCaskey and Mrs. Virginia McCaskey for the opportunity to lead one of the game’s most storied franchises. It’s four years I’ll always remember.
To Ryan Pace – Your passion and commitment towards this franchise was contagious. You gave it everything you had, every single day. It was always teamwork and togetherness with us. No regrets. Thank you.
To the Players, Coaches and Support Staff – Thank you for your hard work and daily dedication. I will forever be grateful for the fight and determination you showed each week. Every day I tried my very best to honor the the commitment you showed to the game and the organization. We’ve all built great relationships that will last a lifetime. I was proud to be your coach and wish you nothing but success in the future.”
Bears Clean House After 6-11 Season