Must Read of the Day: A Portrait of Organizational Failure

Save for Chairman George McCaskey’s cringe press conference on Monday, the positive vibes have been flowing in Bears land. The dismissals of Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy have brought a breath of fresh air. Pushing that pair aside has taken a weight off the shoulders of fans (fearing retention and a return of status quo). And the laundry list of names reportedly interviewing for those openings provides ample hope. At minimum, it brings a belief that a clean slate could bring necessary changes.

Unfortunately, this article in The Athletic by Kevin Fishbain and Adam Jahns serves as a reminder that the power structure that has generated one disappointment after another is ultimately still in tact. In doing so, the article paints a damning portrait of organizational failure. So much so, it that might have you pumping the brake on the hope train express.

Jahns and Fishbain weave a tale that ear-marks a variety of missteps, mistakes, missed opportunities, and flat out incompetence. All of it leading us to this specific moment in time. It is sourced and telling. You should absolutely set aside some time today to read it.

The common denominator of it all is the McCaskey ownership and power structure under George as the chairman. Every instance in which the Bears have stubbed their toe, stepped on a rake Sideshow Bob style, and otherwise failed cartoonishly can be traced back to the decisions from the top that put them in that poison in the first place. I almost don’t know where to begin.

Some of the things that struck me most …

The Bruce Arians whiff

“He thought he had it,” said Jake Arians of his father Bruce Arians landing the Bears gig after Lovie Smith’s dismissal. Jake, who serves as his father’s adviser, said Bruce was excited about coaching Jay Cutler. There was even a plan to bring in Todd Bowles, who is now in his second hiring cycle as a Bears head-coaching candidate. But this is where upper management got in way over its head. Then-GM Phil Emery was trying to force incumbent defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli on a new coach — even though Marinelli himself was set to leave. What kind of Mickey Mouse organization does this?

And after Emery fell hard for CFL head coach Marc Trestman instead of Arians, Mel Tucker was hired to run the defense, but forced to run Marinelli’s scheme (even though it wasn’t one Tucker was familiar with or comfortable in). No competent organization does things this way.

“The Ernie Accorsi thing was a disaster waiting to happen.”

That quote from an anonymous source was like hitting a bullseye. Because not only was it a disaster, it was a preventable one. And one that compounded the already serious organizational problems.

That’s because, much like the previous regime, the Bears were hiring a new GM and sticking him with a quarterback who wasn’t his first choice. And by using Accorsi to assist in the manner, Ryan Pace really didn’t get to pick his own coach. Again … what kind of two-bit organization operates like this? Of course, Pace would go on to complicate matters for himself moving forward by keeping John Fox out of the loop when it came to drafting Mitchell Trubisky. He would try to clean up that mess by firing Fox, hiring Matt Nagy, and trying to re-create the Saints blueprint he was a part of in New Orleans. We know that didn’t end well, as we find ourselves in the midst of a Bears coaching search. But based on the reporting done by Fishbain and Jahns, it probably should’ve come sooner.

Nagy vs. Trubisky

Matt Nagy, Pace’s hand-picked head coach hire, comes off really poorly in the article thanks to the sourced stories unearthed by Jahns and Fishbain. Particularly when things became challenging later in the Trubisky era. Anecdotes from the 2019 and 2020 seasons paint a damning picture of Nagy.

A source told a story of how Nagy “ripped Mitch in front of the whole team” and chastised him for being uncoachable after Week 2 of the 2020 season. There is a mention of Nagy’s calling out players after the team’s 2019 loss to the Raiders in London. But maybe the most toxic part of that whole era might’ve been Trubisky preparing to meet with Nagy after 2019, only for Nagy to not show up. Nagy had essentially broken up with Trubisky and mentally moved on, leaving the quarterback and his notes to share with no one. And now I’m imagining Trubisky looking like that Fresh Prince meme where he’s alone in the living room. Yikes.

Here we go again…

What really drives the stake into your heart as a Bears fan is that this isn’t a one-time occurrence. But instead, one that stretches over spans of years with different GMs, coaches, and quarterbacks. It is a recurring tale of an ownership that doesn’t know what it doesn’t know. General managers stuck digging out from the mistakes of their predecessors. And coaches who simply ain’t it. And that power structure remains in place today as it undergoes yet another regime change. From the outside looking in, I’d bet this entire operations looks like a recurring Three Stooges bit.

That article is heavy. There are plenty of different angles and anecdotes that had my head spinning throughout. At the end of my reading, there was one inescapable feeling I couldn’t shake: I simply couldn’t get past thinking how this story best explains why Nagy and Pace should’ve been sent packing after 2020. There was no need to bring either back. And now, everyone in the Chicago football organization is left to hope a regime that bungled everything before the Mitchell Trubisky era didn’t damage Justin Fields to the point where he becomes the next victim of organizational mismanagement. Hope that, unlike his predecessors, he can succeed under a GM and a Head Coach that did not pick him.

Good luck.

written by

Luis C. Medina, who you can find on Twitter at lcm1986, has been covering the Chicago Bears at Bleacher Nation since 2017. Since then, he has written about 3 head coaches, 5 play-callers, and 11 starting quarterbacks. Previously, Luis wrote about the Cubs and MLB at BN (2015-16) and worked in the Chicago Tribune sports department (2011-16). He also co-hosted a Cubs postgame show, Outside the Ivy, in 2019.

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