The Chicago Bears are in the market for a new general manager and head coach after firing Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy on Monday, according to league sources.
While the move to fire Nagy was expected as the losses piled up in his fourth season, Pace’s fate after seven years in his role seemed less clear over the last month.
Ultimately, Bears Chairman George McCaskey cut ties with the decision-maker, whose teams posted a 48-65 record, qualified for the postseason twice and failed to record a playoff victory.
Along with the losing record, Pace’s tenure will most be associated with crucial misses at the quarterback position and his move to hire Nagy.
Pace traded up from No. 3 to No. 2 in the 2017 NFL draft, selecting Mitch Trubisky over fellow first-round quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. After four roller-coaster seasons, the Bears let Trubisky head into free agency in 2021, and he signed on to be the Buffalo Bills backup.
The Bears have made multiple moves to try to correct that mistake, including trading for Nick Foles, signing Andy Dalton and drafting Justin Fields. The aggressive trade up to draft Fields could be a big moment in Bears history if Fields becomes the franchise quarterback the Bears hope he will be.
But the evaluation on Fields is still incomplete after a rocky rookie season.
Trubisky wasn’t Pace’s only first-round fail, with wide receiver Kevin White in 2015 and outside linebacker Leonard Floyd in 2017 also not panning out. Pace’s recent decisions created salary-cap issues and a roster that is lacking in talent and depth at a few key positions, leading to a 6-11 2021 season.
Aside from drafting Fields, Pace’s landmark moment was a trade to acquire Khalil Mack on Labor Day weekend 2018, which helped jump-start a division-championship season. He was named the league’s executive of the year by the Sporting News.
His first-round pick of inside linebacker Roquan Smith and his ability to find solid midround picks, including second-year wide receiver Darnell Mooney in the fifth round, were among his other achievements.
He also was instrumental in jump-starting a $100 million project to expand Halas Hall, an overhaul that was completed in 2019 with a 162,500-square-foot football-operations addition.
After his first three seasons with coach John Fox, Pace hired Nagy in 2018 after Nagy spent five seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, first as quarterbacks coach, then as co-offensive coordinator and finally as offensive coordinator in 2017. Nagy, who began his coaching career as a Philadelphia Eagles assistant under Andy Reid, had called plays in only a handful of games for the Chiefs when the Bears hired him.
In Nagy’s first stint as an NFL head coach, his teams went 34-31, including a 12-4 record, an NFC North title and a playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in his first season in 2018. Nagy was named the NFL Coach of the Year after that season.
But the Bears didn’t put together a winning season in his next three, including back-to-back 8-8 campaigns in 2019 and 2020. The latter resulted in a playoff berth but ended with a dispiriting 21-9 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Nagy’s tenure was marked by lengthy losing streaks in each of his last three seasons, including a five-game skid in 2021.
After the last loss of the 2021 streak – a 16-13 defeat to the Baltimore Ravens at Soldier Field – a Patch.com report surfaced that Bears leadership planned to fire Nagy following the next game. McCaskey eventually told Nagy and his players the report was not true, but that declaration simply put off the inevitable decision.
At the heart of Nagy’s firing was his inability to elevate the Bears – despite multiple quarterbacks and coaches trying to help him. His teams ranked 29th in offensive yards and points per game in 2019, 26th in yards and 22nd in points per game in 2020 and 28th in yards and 26th in points per game entering the 2021 season finale.
The Bears cycled through quarterbacks Trubisky, Foles, Dalton and Fields during his tenure. Nagy replaced offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich with Bill Lazor in 2020 and handed off play-calling duties to Lazor twice in an effort to boost the offense. None of the moves had lasting positive effects.
Fields, whom Nagy was entrusted to develop, won just two of his first 10 starts, throwing for 1,870 yards, seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Now Bears leadership must zero in on the right coach to help Fields develop as the No. 11 draft pick moves into his second NFL season in 2022.
The status of Bears President and CEO Ted Phillips also is worth monitoring this week.
Phillips has been the Bears president for 23 seasons, a lengthy stretch defined by mediocrity. The Bears went 13-3 in 2006 and later advanced to Super Bowl XLI, in which they lost to the Indianapolis Colts. But in Phillips’ time as team president, the franchise has made only six playoff appearances and won just three postseason games. The 2021 season was the ninth in his tenure in which the Bears lost at least 10 games. That stretch has come while cycling through three general managers and five head coaches.
Source: Berkshire mont