Fans who follow the team religiously, media members who cover the team daily, and national pundits who provide a big-picture perspective all see the Bears as an organization in need of sweeping changes. However, the Bears – themselves – have not yet made the changes that seem so obvious on the outside. But perhaps that’s about to change.
The Chicago Tribune’s Dan Wiederer takes a deep dive into a tumultuous Bears season, sharing intel from a variety of sources (both anonymous and on-the-record). And they all point to organizational restructuring starting at the top:
** DEEP DIVE **
For the Bears, 2021 has been a year defined by disappointment and embarrassment. That has led the organization to the brink of major change. But what exactly is coming next with much at stake for Ted Phillips, Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy?https://t.co/3cfAJ0tYho
— Dan Wiederer (@danwiederer) December 15, 2021
You’ll want to pull up a chair and clear some time to read this lengthy piece in full. In the meantime, we’ll share some of the highlights. I find it most fascinating to start from the top, where it feels like the Bears — as Wiederer puts it — are on “the brink of major change.”
⇒ We can start at the top of the organization with Bears President/CEO Ted Phillips, who has “privately discussed distancing himself from football operations in recent months” adding that he has made the acknowledgment that the organization would be better off with a better football mind running and overseeing the football things. This would represent a significant change of course for the Bears, who have had Phillips as the team’s president since 1999. And while Chairman George McCaskey would say Phillips doesn’t have involvement in football decisions, his indirect association with football things — GM/coach searches, hirings, and being at the top of the football food chain by proxy — says otherwise.
⇒ There is perspective from a variety of standout former Bears players. And it’s all valuable. Take Super Bowl XX championship-winning safety Gary Fencik as an example. Fencik, an Ivy League educated Yale man, believes urgent changes are necessary. No argument here. Fencik, a former player who also has the perspective of a fan as a season-ticket holder, believes the franchise should measure itself against the league’s best and brightest. From there, it should see how the franchise does (or doesn’t) measure up to the highest of high standards. That’s sensible enough.
Although, my favorite anecdote from the piece might be former center/current media personality Olin Kreutz rhetorically asking: “How do you not come to the conclusion that it’s time to move on?”
The Bears like to consider themselves a football family. They’re a family owned and operated team through-and-through. And when there are enough prominent voices within the family saying things, eventually it has to go through someone’s head to make changes. This Bears family, like many families, can be stubborn – and thus – take longer than usual to push through necessary changes. Moreover, much like many families, it might take public pressure from within the family to make sure the message is sent.
⇒ The future of GM Ryan Pace and Head Coach Matt Nagy is unknown at this time. But Wiederer writes the idea of Nagy returning for a fifth season as Bears head coach “seems incredibly far-fetched.” And while Pace’s future, it’s still unclear. But anecdotes, including one from a source who tells Wiederer that Pace is “incredibly likable” and that he shouldn’t have any issues finding a new gig in the NFL if this is his last call as Bears GM suggests the writing is on the wall here, too.
At the end of the day, one line Wiederer writes rings the most true: “Make no mistake: Significant change is likely coming. That wave has already begun at Halas Hall.”
This is starting to feel like 2017, when the writing was on the wall with John Fox. In some cases, it feels like the end of the Phil Emery-Marc Trestman era in 2014. There is an overwhelming feeling that changes are coming. There has been too much smoke in recent weeks for the status quo to remain. It’s just a matter of how much the wave will take back to the water to never be seen or heard from again.