There has been a growing number of reports around the Chicago Bears and potential organizational changes on the horizon.
Head coach replacements for Matt Nagy have been floating for a while now. And more recently, there has been chatter about Ryan Pace not returning as general manager — with one possible fit already popping up. Beyond that, there has even been discussions about changes above the head coach and GM positions – as in, an entire organizational overhaul. At this point, pretty much anything is on the table. And that’s a good thing.
But NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport comes through with a “not so fast, my friend” reminder. Because in an interview on The Adam Schein Podcast, Rapoport doesn’t sound so sure that Pace is out the door.
“As far as the GM goes? I have not heard that Ryan Pace is in trouble,” Rapoport said, in an interview transcribed by Bears Wire’s Alyssa Barbieri. “Anything is possible. I’m not going to make any definitive statements because I simply don’t know, but I have not heard that Pace is in trouble.”
Okay. Well, then…
What Rapoport says here lines up with something we were discussing last week when it was reported the Bears were doing “homework” on potential GM replacement candidates. Follow along for a moment. Because while NBC Sports Chicago’s Adam Hoge was reporting about the franchise doing background work, his wording was important to note. The framing/phrasing of the team looking to replace Pace in the general manger role created the possibility that Pace isn’t going to be forced out the door entirely (Pace could stick around in a different role with a new title). We could speculate on a President of Football Ops role, splitting the president’s chair between football and business. Or it could be in a role like the one the Bulls created for John Paxson … a role that may have input at the highest levels, but not a role responsible for making decisions (Michael: That was about as good as things could have gone in terms of sweeping organizational change, without actually removing the last guy in charge).
No matter how we slice it, there is a non-zero chance that Pace’s time in Chicago isn’t entirely over. Especially when Rapoport offers this: “I think Justin Fields being good, what (Pace) did to get him, the promise there? That probably helps him. I would say Matt Nagy is in trouble.”
Ugh. These statements represent a snapshot of the disjointed nature of this Bears organization. Moreover, they present a reminder of the perils that come when the head coach and general manager aren’t on the same timeline.
Take a moment to think about Pace’s career arc. Specifically, note how easy it has been to deflect blame during his GM tenure. The inheritance of a poorly put-together roster and cap mess can be laid at the feet of predecessor Phil Emery. Some blame in hiring John Fox can be shifted to Ernie Accorsi. Especially if you believe the advisor the Bears hired who put Pace in the GM role — who had previous, long-standing ties to Fox — nudged Pace in that direction in a “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” kind of move. And now, with Pace’s feet at the fire again, he can conceivably point to the move-up and selection of Justin Fields as a point in his favor and that Nagy’s coaching is what is holding him back.
“Blame Game” is a great track by Kanye West off his classic My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album. It shouldn’t be a game that the Bears GM should be playing in trying to prop up an argument to keep his job. Full stop.
Nevertheless, we should operate moving forward as if that minuscule chance of a Pace reassignment is real. At minimum, this possibility is realer than it should be for a franchise needing a clean slate. And that gets me hot! Like, mad-hot. Not happy-hot.
Nagy has had four years in Chicago. And in his time, he has proven what he is (and, more importantly, isn’t). Because of that, you can understand why Rapoport would say Nagy is in trouble. But Pace has been with the Bears for seven years. I suppose there is a case that drafting Justin Fields could buy him a longer leash. But there is still ample evidence hinting that Pace is part of the organization’s problem (despite the pick).
Bouncing Nagy, while retaining Pace – even in a non-GM role – feels like a half-measure for a franchise that needs to fully immerse itself in change. Nevertheless, that half-measure concept is apparently still on the table. We’ll keep an eye on this one as things move along.