The Chicago Bears confirmed both general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy will return for the 2021 campaign.
Team chairman George McCaskey said he was “impressed” with the job Pace and Nagy have done building the club, whose season ended in Sunday’s Super Wild Card blowout loss to the New Orleans Saints.
“I was impressed with both of them this past season, especially during the six-game losing streak,” McCaskey said Wednesday. “The fact that our players never gave up is a tribute to the players. It is also indicative of the type of players that Ryan acquires and to the players’ regard for Matt as their head coach. Like Ted and I, Ryan and Matt, too, have vigorous discussions; in the end, all four of us want what’s best for the Bears. There are no egos, no other agendas. Have mistakes been made? Yes. But I think both Ryan and Matt are learning and growing in their roles. … (to Bears fans) We understand your frustration. We’re frustrated too. And it would be a perfectly natural reaction to say back up the truck, major overhaul, whatever you want to call it. … I get it, you deserve your Bears being winners. The decisions we’re announcing today may not be the easiest or most popular but we believe they’re the best decisions for the Bears.”
McCaskey noted that neither Pace nor Nagy has been given contract extensions. Pace enters the final year of his contract. Without an extension, the GM could feel pressure to make decisions in the short term to provide a winning season in 2021, not necessarily taking the future into account. We’ve seen that blow up in the past for lame-duck GMs.
McCaskey said that any potential contract talks would be “ongoing.”
“When we see improvements, contracts will take care of themselves,” team president Ted Phillips said, underscoring the importance of 2021.
When asked repeatedly what Pace and Nagy have done to deserve another season, McCaskey continually pointed do the two improving together despite back-to-back 8-8 seasons. The chairman pointed to finding fifth-round WR Darnell Mooney as a key reason the GM got another season at the helm.
The biggest issue heading into 2021 for the Bears is at the quarterback position. Mitchell Trubisky, who Pace used the No. 2 overall pick on, played out the final year of his contract, and Nick Foles was benched in favor of the struggling QB.
“We need better production from the quarterback position to be successful,” McCaskey said.
When asked directly if he believes, after repeatedly missing at the position, Pace and Nagy can finally get the QB position correct, McCaskey affirmed: “Yes, we are.”
The Bears backed into the playoffs despite a six-game losing streak that any other season would have left them out of the postseason. McCaskey noted that the new No. 7 playoff spot instituted by the NFL this year is the only reason they made the postseason.
“As far as I’m concerned, 2020 was a losing season,” he said.
Despite that sentiment, Pace and Nagy will get at least one more year to get the Bears over the hump.