Smoke regarding the respective futures of Bears GM Ryan Pace and Head Coach Matt Nagy started to appear after a 5-5 start to the 2020 season.
Chicago went into the bye losing four straight, with the most recent loss coming in Week 10’s episode of Monday Night Football. That particular loss, which showed no offensive growth despite a play-caller change, made for a tough week at Halas Hall for anyone crossing paths with George McCaskey. And indeed, late last week, it was even hinted that games against the arch-rival Packers could ultimately lead to some high profile changes in the front office and/or along the sidelines. Today, we have an even better sense of the seat-temperature for Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy. And let me tell you, it seems a little hot.
Windy City Gridiron’s Bill Zimmerman hosted The Athletic’s Adam Jahns on a recent podcast, which you can check out here. Therein, they discussed the team’s offensive issues, Jahns’ new book, and potential solutions to long-standing problems. And when it came down to whether or not Pace and/or Nagy were on the hot seat down the stretch, Jahns’ response was rather telling.
“Yes. And I don’t want to overrate the importance of these next six games because I don’t think the quarterback conundrum is going to change over the next six weeks,” Jahns said. “The record (25-17) is important. But I’ve said all along, it would take some sort of collapse for the Bears’ brass to feel differently. We’re in the middle of that collapse right now. Can Matt Nagy stop it?”
I don’t imagine sitting firmly on the hot seat is how Nagy or Pace envisioned starting Packers Week. But here we are!
The Bears are certainly in a free-fall right now. They have lost four straight and five of eight after a 3-0 start. And since the trade deadline has passed, it’s on Nagy to get the most of whatever is at his disposal. We know what the Bears are dealing with from a roster-construction perspective. So while it’s admittedly not great, it’s up to Nagy to squeeze out what he can. Otherwise, it sounds like the Bears’ decision-makers at the top will be facing a tough decision regarding the franchise’s future.
What further complicates things is that this decision impacts short and long-term futures. Considering the big-picture needs, bringing back Pace and Nagy means they’re in a position to take another shot at quarterback. It would be malpractice to give Pace and Nagy that responsibility, then stick that quarterback with a new GM and coach. Does a scenario exist where Pace gets to pick his third coach and fourth quarterback? Maybe. Is there a chance Nagy’s future is determined by another general manager? Perhaps. The possibilities seem limitless. Hence, this stretch run is important for Nagy, Pace, and the entire Bears organization.
In the end, the seat is hot. For Nagy, the NFL’s Coach of the Year for what he did in leading the Bears to a 12-win season. And for Pace, whose peers voted him as the league’s top exec after 2018. A season that began with Pace and Nagy at a crossroads now sits at a turning point moment. Fasten your seatbelts, friends.