It’s only fitting that a potential organizational shift is at stake in the 200th regular-season meeting between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Not to say that it’s best to put your eggs in one basket and judge a franchise’s future based on one game. However, there is something about using an arch-rival at the top of their game as a measuring stick. It essentially lets you know where you stand in the grand scheme of things. If you want to be the best, you’ll have to beat the best. And as of right now, all roads go through Green Bay.
So now that we’ve established that, let’s explore who’s got what at stake in today’s ballgame.
Head Coach Matt Nagy
From @NFLGameDay: #Chargers coach Anthony Lynn's future is up in the air and will be decided tomorrow, while #Bears coach Matt Nagy, who is safe, has become more involved in play-calling recently. pic.twitter.com/IQAM2J30XM
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 3, 2021
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport is the latest to chime in with the growing sentiment that Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy’s job is safe.
The true brow-raising development, however, is the declaration from Rapoport that Nagy has been more involved with play-calling recently. That much was an unexpected twist, seeing that Bill Lazor was given play-calling duties in Week 10. And that the offense has hit a new gear since Nagy publicly stepped away from calling plays shouldn’t be overlooked. Perhaps this is a pull to get some extra credit? For what it’s worth, Nagy should be applauded for giving up play-calling when things hit rock bottom. Maybe he isn’t getting deserved credit for taking a step that probably hurt his ego. But let’s not step on Lazor’s toes here. As someone who learned under Andy Reid, who was known to give up play-calling when slumping, Nagy should know better.
With that in mind, a win would go a long way toward solidifying his position as the Bears’ head coach.
General Manager Ryan Pace
There have been recent strong hints that Nagy’s job can be further secured if the Bears can finish with a win against the Packers. And yet, there hasn’t been much about GM Ryan Pace’s future.
Some clarity can be found here:
.@BradBiggs: George McCaskey’s voice is the only one that matters when it comes to Ryan Pace’s and Matt Nagy’s futures.
Will Sunday’s result factor into the Bears chairman’s thinking? https://t.co/pj4FtqlJwy
— Chicago Tribune Sports (@ChicagoSports) January 2, 2021
The word “some” is doing a ton of heavy lifting in the previous sentence, because there is still plenty of uncertainty surrounding Pace’s future. And it starts with not quite knowing how much time Pace has on his existing deal:
From @bradbiggs column it blows my mind that we don’t know how many years are left on Ryan Pace’s contract. This is a detail I’d like @AdamSchefter @RapSheet or someone to uncover before tomorrow’s game if possible. It feels very relevant. pic.twitter.com/ynnqjPOSLB
— Danny Parkins (@DannyParkins) January 2, 2021
Pace is believed to be entering the final year of an extension he signed after the 2017 season. The caveat in Pace’s extension is that it was set to expire before the end of Nagy’s deal. As Biggs points out, there is a belief in some circles that Pace’s deal was quietly adjusted behind the scenes to expire at the same time as Nagy’s contract. That would put the two most important people in the organization on the same timeline. But that there is no confirmation that such an extension happened is equal parts concerning and telling about the disjointed feeling surrounding the Bears’ hierarchy. Hence, our long-time insistence that wholesale organizational changes are needed.
Ultimately, this is the vibe:
— Aaron Leming (@AaronLemingNFL) January 3, 2021
Jay Glazer is one of the most plugged-in reporters in the NFL. And he has a history with Pace. So with that being said, keep in mind today’s Bears-Packers result is expected to go a long way toward telling us what’s about to be coming through the pipeline.
Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky
If the general manager and head coach have jobs on the line, then the quarterback the GM drafted and head coach was supposed to develop is essentially on the hot seat, too.
So if Pace and Nagy needs wins for increased job security, then the same can likely be said about Mitchell Trubisky:
From @gmfb Weekend: Mitch Trubisky has made a late push to be the #Bears' QB in 2021 with stats thay are comparable to other playoff QBs. He needs to cap it with a strong performance against the #Packers tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/qXWtYzdMbJ
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) January 3, 2021
The Bears are 3-2 in Trubisky’s best five-game stretch of his career. Put aside the opponents he has faced for a moment, and tip your cap for the 68.1 percent completion rate, 99.3 passer rating, and 10-4 TD-INT ratio. We’ve seen Trubisky do less against sub-par defenses before, so in a way, it’s encouraging to see him take advantage of what’s in front of him.
HOWEVER … this is the biggest of big games for him. A playoff spot is on the line. As is the future of his head coach and general manger. In addition to playing for the GM, head coach, and teammates, Trubisky is also fighting for his own NFL future. A strong finish to the 2020 campaign could do wonders for him as he is set to hit free agency this upcoming offseason.
And to think, getting the ball rolling on all that good stuff begins in about three hours.