Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy don’t speak to the media too often. And recently, their availability hasn’t come with the types of answers Bears fans would want from the two top dogs in the organization. Nevertheless, I was able to pull some worthwhile quotes from their recent chat.
You can watch Pace and Nagy talking below. In the meantime, enjoy some highlights and additional commentary from yours truly.
So, Why Andy Dalton?
I’m not sure there’s an answer that will please Bears fans who were craving a bigger move from the Bears’ front office. But for what it’s worth, I think what Ryan Pace says he likes about Andy Dalton tells us something about why Chicago made the move away from Mitchell Trubisky. And that’s important in its own right.
“The things we like, as you look at it, obviously his experience,” Pace said. “He’s a nine-year starter, been to three Pro Bowls, a lot of leadership. His decision-making. He’s won a lot of games in this league. Andy’s been a durable player, too. I think that’s underrated.”
Andy Dalton’s professional profile is the complete opposite of Mitchell Trubisky. Dalton has ample experience. With 142 starts under his belt, Dalton has seen every defense in the book. We can’t say that when it comes to Trubisky, even though he has been the Bears’ QB1 for the better part of the last four years. There has been praise for Dalton’s pre-snap reads and performance within the confines of a system. And we shouldn’t take that lightly. Evidently, Pace values the wealth of quality experience that comes with a signal caller who quarterbacked the Bengals to *MULTIPLE* playoff trips.
We also shouldn’t overlook the durability factor. Dalton started 109 of a possible 112 games from 2011-17. He missed four games in 2018, then three more in 2019 to close out his tenure in Cincinnati. After seeing Trubisky miss games due to non-throwing shoulder injuries over the last three seasons, I wonder if that played a role into (1) valuing Dalton’s durability and (2) making a move away from Nick Foles, who has a litany of injury issues of his own.
There was some initial push-back to news that Matt Nagy was retaining play-calling duties for 2021. It’s understandable, seeing that the offense looked to unearth some things under Bill Lazor’s watch. Moreover, signing Dalton figured to be a move that indicated Lazor would be at it again. Instead, it’s Nagy calling the shots. And why wouldn’t it be? Would you want your destiny in someone else’s hands if it was a make-or-break year for you? I certainly wouldn’t. Maybe there will be a time later in the year when Nagy hands over play-calling duties. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
In the meantime, Nagy sees a schematic fit with Dalton on board:
“Some of the things that Andy has done in his career fits schematically some of the stuff that we have done here in the past three years. Now, some things will be a little bit different. There are going to be some things that Andy likes that Mitch and Nick hated. But we’re going to work together to be able to figure out what that is.”
And so does Pace:
“I think Andy fits our style of offense. When you go through it with our scouts and coaches, he can handle the drop-back game, can handle the RPOs, play actions, the movements. And we just felt, as we went through those free-agent quarterbacks, he’s one of the more complete quarterbacks that we evaluated in free agency. We’re excited to have him.
This strongly hints at the Bears putting out a different-looking offense in 2021. Better? I don’t know. Different? Well, it certainly sounds like it will be.
Allen Robinson II is Back
Ryan Pace’s first public comments after retaining Allen Robinson II on the Franchise Tag were … uninspiring:
“The league gives us that tool for a reason and not just with us, you see it with multiple teams using the Franchise Tag. We tagged him for a reason. He’s a really good player. We’re glad he’s part of our team. We know he’ll be here in 2021. Again, he’s a focal part of our offense. It’s a resource that we have that we use and we’ll continue to work through it.”
On the one hand, it’s great to have Robinson back. He is coming off consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, set a career best with 102 catches, and maintains his place as the offense’s best and most reliable performer. And yet, no hint at progress regarding an extension. Doesn’t Robinson deserve better? Not even the mention of a possibility of a new deal. I suppose I can understand it from a negotiation standpoint, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it (if that’s even the reason Pace didn’t discuss even the remote possibility of a multi-year extension).
It’s disappointing to hear Pace talk about Robinson as if he will be here for just another year and not as someone who figures to be around for a while. For a franchise that has rewarded so many players with extensions, not getting one done with Robinson sticks in my craw. It’s a failed opportunity to lock in a productive and popular player that nags me the most.
But at least he’ll be a “focal part” of the offense. Another 100 catches and 1,000 receiving yards would be neat. But if Robinson is in Chicago for only one more year, that would be disappointing.
Odds and Ends
⇒ Here’s the closest we’ll get to a Ryan Pace “mea culpa” regarding the 2017 NFL Draft is this quote: “I think every year you grow as an evaluator. You never stop growing in that area. So, yeah, there probably are things, and not just with quarterback, but every position, that I feel like we all get better at with experience. Maybe things you value differently than you valued in the past because you have early experiences.
⇒ Nick Foles was brought into be the bridge guy in case things went sideways with Mitchell Trubisky. And while things certainly went that route, Nagy is left to explain to Foles how he is not The Guy entering 2021: “Nick and I have had some great conversations as to things that went on last year, and the why’s behind everything, which is very valuable. Obviously, I’ll keep that between Nick and myself, but there are so many things that go into it.”
⇒ An extended non-answer from Nagy as to why Lazor isn’t calling plays to start 2021: “There’s a lot of things that go into that. When we look through the scheme, it was, for me, just something that I feel good about. That’s a minor deal for us right now. We’re going through all this stuff, this film, and seeing where we’re at. We have bigger things to worry about than that.” I don’t think deciding on a play-caller is a minor deal in the grand scheme of things. But for what it’s worth, right now, the Bears have bigger fish to fry.