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Chicago Bears Fire Head Coach Matt Nagy, GM Ryan Pace

James Murphy
by in NFL on
  • The Chicago Bears have fired head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace.
  • The Bears finished 6-11 on the season and went 34-31 in the regular season under Nagy.
  • Nagy led the Bears to the playoffs twice but wasn’t able to make any headway there finishing his Chicago tenure 0-2 in the postseason.

The first week after the NFL regular season is invariably a bloodbath for head coaches and general managers as underperforming teams look to ‘clean house’ immediately and start moving forward with a clean slate. There’s been plenty of movement already this year but in what is likely the *least* surprising dismissal of the NFL season (not counting Urban Meyer), the Chicago Bears have fired head coach Matt Nagy. Also sent packing was general manager Ryan Pace . Pace probably needed to go but he was never the ‘lightning rod’ for fan frustration that Nagy was.

The Bears issued this press release making the announcement. Apparently no one uses the term ‘fired’ any more as the presser says that Pace and Nagy were ‘relieved of duties’. Even that’s fairly serious since the current trend is to use the ‘mutual decision’ narrative for any type of coach firing:

One day after concluding their disappointing 2021 season with a 31-17 loss to the Vikings, the Bears on Monday relieved general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy of their duties.

Bears chairman George H. McCaskey addressed the media via Zoom Monday afternoon to discuss the moves.

The press release continues to recount both men’s tenure with the Bears:

Hired to replace Phil Emery in 2015, Pace compiled records of 48-65 in the regular season and 0-2 in the playoffs in seven years as Bears general manager.

During Pace’s tenure, the Bears had one winning season. Under coach John Fox from 2015-17, they went 6-10, 3-13 and 5-11. In Nagy’s first year in 2018, they rebounded to win the NFC North title with a 12-4 record. After the season, Pace was named NFL Executive of the Year and Nagy was chosen NFL Coach of the Year.

But the Bears failed to build off that success. They followed with seasons of 8-8, 8-8 and 6-11, dropping Nagy’s career record to 34-33, including playoffs.

Since a 5-1 start in 2020, the Bears have lost 19 of 28 games, including a 21-9 wild-card playoff defeat to the Saints last season in New Orleans. After a 3-2 start this year, they dropped nine of their final 12 contests.

When Nagy was hired by the Bears after he spent five seasons as Chiefs quarterbacks coach (2013-15) and offensive coordinator (2016-17), he was entrusted with building a potent offense and developing a franchise quarterback. But the offense struggled throughout most of his four seasons, with the Bears ranking ninth, 29th, 22nd and 27th in scoring and 21st, 29th, 26th and 24th in total yards.

I’ve got to give the Bears props for a press release chock full o’ facts. You’ve got the hard data on why they were fired along with some background about why they were hired in the first place. As much as I love press release quotes, I can really do without the ‘Coach Nagy is a great leader but a better man’ type eulogizing.

Both Pace and Nagy went out the door with consummate class, offering these quotes upon their departure:

No reason for either Pace or Nagy to leave with any ill will. As they suggest in their statements, they were given the keys to one of the league’s iconic franchises but didn’t get the job done. It happens.

Nagy’s implosion was particularly disappointing. I had him pegged as a coach of the future after the Bears’ 12-4 season in 2018. The problem for Nagy was Mitch Trubisky or–more appropriately–Trubisky’s lack of consistent progress as a starting quarterback. Hindsight being 20/20 it’s starting to look like the problem was Trubisky’s ‘ceiling’ more than Nagy’s coaching. Trubisky is now a backup to Josh Allen in Buffalo and he could simply be better in this role than as a starter. He never seemed to have the ‘intangibles’ necessary to be a NFL starting quarterback but if I’m coaching a team he’s not a bad guy to have on the bench if your starter goes down.

Bears’ chairman McCaskey has pulled together a five person team to orchestrate the hiring for both positions though he makes clear that if someone needs to put their foot down that foot is him:

The Bears have assembled a five-person team to hire both positions. It consists of McCaskey, Phillips, Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian, Bears vice president of player engagement LaMar “Soup” Campbell and Bears senior vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion Tanesha Wade.

“I expect that we will reach a consensus on both positions,” McCaskey said. “Ultimately, though, the decision on the next general manager and head coach will be mine.”

Not sure about the rest of the search team but Pollian is a good get. He’s been around the league forever and knows how the game works.

As for now, there’s been no shortage of talk linking Jim Harbaugh to the Chicago job though I still think he’d be a better fit coaching the Raiders in the 702. There’s also a rumor afoot that there is mutual interest between the Bears and former Houston Executive Vice President of Football Operations Rick Smith to fill the vacancy left by Pace’s firing. I always thought Smith was a damn good executive who keep the Texans competitive year after year. I was surprised to find out that he didn’t have a current gig.

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