When it comes to the head coaching position, the future of the Chicago Bears remains about as clear as mud.
Some clarity came this afternoon via Head Coach Matt Nagy, who told reporters he is operating under the assumption that he will coach the final two games of the regular season. But even that provided only minimal clarity. And this Bears-centric hit from NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport didn’t help:
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 27, 2021
The part where Rapoport says “a firm and final decision has not been made” regarding Nagy’s future surely stands out. And for all the wrong reasons. But the full context from Rapoport paints a slightly clearer, and more optimistic picture for the future of the franchise:
“I think it’s pretty clear to say that it is very possible that Matt Nagy is coaching his final days as the coach of the Chicago Bears,” Rapoport said. “but a firm and final decision has not been made.”
Is he mostly reiterating what Nagy said earlier? Yes, but there’s more to it than that. And all additional context is welcome, especially with the NFL’s new rule allowing teams to host virtual interviews for head coach candidates over the final two weeks of the regular season if the head coach has been removed (or informed of his pending removal at season’s end).
For example, perhaps it’s as simple as not having anyone to interview any potential new candidate. Think about it. Even if the Bears were going to take advantage of this new league rule, ask yourself how would they do so properly? Who is interviewing these theoretical head coach candidates, (probably) lame-duck GM Ryan Pace? I don’t think so. Chairman George McCaskey? Franchise matriarch Virginia Halas McCaskey? President Ted Phillips? One of his underlings? Hopefully not, right? So unless a new President of Football Operations is installed ahead of this process (which just isn’t going to happen), then it makes sense to let Nagy ride this thing to the end.
Plus, if they have no one to lead the interview process, and aren’t interviewing anyone next two weeks, there is no real reason to tell Nagy: “You’re fired in two weeks, just FYI.”
So, in a way, maybe Nagy not being fired today is a small signal that Pace is out at GM?
If anyone should make the call on bringing the axe down on the head coach, it should be Pace. It would make sense for the general manager who brought Nagy to town to escort him out. But what sense does it make to let someone whose contract is expiring at year’s end to make that decision? Although, that opens up a line of questioning as to why a decision hasn’t been publicly made regarding Pace’s future. All of it makes my head spin. It’s almost as if having a coach and GM on different contractual timelines is bad for the business of football.
In the end, we know this much: The Bears need sweeping organizational changes, which have reportedly been discussed at the top of the chain of command. Nagy, Pace, and even Phillips have been in the rumored crosshairs of change. If that’s the case, and George McCaskey already knows he wants a total overhaul, in that case, there is no real point to utilizing this new rule. Which, it’s a bit of a bummer because it’s a shiny new toy and a nice avenue in which to get an early start at wooing candidates to what might be a dream job for some. Nevertheless, it’s a situation worth monitoring.