The Chicago Bears rumor mill is churning even as the team prepares for its first road playoff game since early 1995. Pretty incredible when one thinks about it. Most people are focused on what is going to happen down in New Orleans. The stage is set. Few experts are giving the Bears any prayer of upsetting the heavily-favored Saints who have one of the most well-rounded rosters in the NFL.
That may be true, but the game still must be played. Crazy things happen all the time. Still, it’s pretty impressive just how many storylines are bubbling behind the scenes. Let it be made clear. A lot of things are at stake going into this game. Futures are on the line for several noteworthy people. All in positions of power. A loss is the last thing they want.
Here is every rumor I’ve heard up to this point both from public and personal sources and what they could mean over the next 24 hours.
Every Chicago Bears rumor heard up to this point
George McCaskey undecided on fates of Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace
One would think being in the playoffs makes discussions of the head coach and GM a non-issue, right? It’s not that simple. George McCaskey needed answers as to which version this Bears team is. The 2018 one that looked like a Super Bowl contender or the 2019 one that finished 8-8. Even with their entry into the postseason, most would agree this team is right on par with last year’s version.
Also, don’t forget they started out 5-1 and collapsed to 8-8. If not for the NFL expanding the playoff field to seven teams, the Bears never would’ve made it. That is why buzz persists that both Nagy and Pace aren’t locks to return. Between the two, Pace is in considerably more danger. The Mitch Trubisky misfire still hangs over his head and the recent moves for Nick Foles and Robert Quinn haven’t helped his case at all.
If the Bears win in New Orleans, that might be enough to save his job. However, it’s felt a loss could spell his end after six seasons. Nagy? His 28-21 record without a losing season along with two years left on his contract have him on steadier ground. Still, a second-straight blowout loss in two weeks along with his questionable offensive aptitude may push him out the door along with Pace too.
Certain coaches and GMs are watching the Bears carefully
Already several teams have head coaching and general manager positions open. They’ve been interviewing to fill them for weeks. That said, there is a small group of head coach and GM candidates who are keeping eyes on the Bears jobs with interest. They seem to think there is a chance at least one if not both of them will come open. At which point they might have significant interest for them.
One prominent name that’s been connected to the organization for weeks now is Pat Fitzgerald. The Northwestern head coach just completed his best overall season with the program. However, with the departure of athletic director Jim Phillips and the retirement of longtime defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz, it’s believed Fitzgerald is more open than ever to taking interviews for the NFL. Thus far he’s moved rather slowly on that front.
A source says this is because he’s waiting to see what happens in Chicago. Fitzgerald reportedly views the Bears job as his preferred destination. Both because of its close proximity to Northwestern and the fact he grew up a Bears fan. It’s his dream position for the NFL. He isn’t alone though. A couple of others are monitoring as well.
Fate of Ted Phillips is more up in the air than ever before
This is the Chicago Bears rumor that a ton of fans are most curious about. Phillips has had an iron grip on the top job in the organization for 21 years now. His promotion had nothing to do with football acumen. Phillips was a career accountant who’d garnered praise for his excellent financial expertise. He’d never once spent time on a football field in any capacity. Yet ownership felt he was fit to run a football organization. A mistake they’ve paid for ever since.
The Bears have made the playoffs just six times in his tenure. Their odds of finally winning a Super Bowl this year aren’t looking great. At age 63, there is a very real undercurrent of belief that Phillips will either retire, be reassigned, or outright fired. McCaskey may have designs on either installing somebody with a much deeper football background into the job or creating the first-ever President of Football Operations.
It would be a significant move for the franchise designed to get somebody with a clear football vision in the ear of ownership to help them better find the right people to make the Bears a consistent success in the future.
Mitch Trubisky contract extension? The Saints will determine that
It’s incredible to think this is an actual discussion. Most fans were ready to kick Trubisky out the door themselves after the end of last season. They were done with him. The former #2 overall pick was a bust. End of story. Time to move on. The Bears decided to keep him around and see if a competition might get more out of him. Instead, it eventually led to him getting benched in favor of Foles.
Now here he is. Trubisky is 6-3 as the starter this season with a 93.5 passer rating. The second-best of his career. Without his timely resurgence in December, the team wouldn’t be playing today. Is that enough to earn him an extension? A lot of scouts and executives think so. While the 26-year old is anything but great, he’s at least functional. He is somebody the team can win with for the time being.
Is that really worth rewarding though? So much of that will depend on this game. Trubisky hasn’t played well against good defenses. New Orleans has one of the better units in the league. If he again can’t produce? It’ll be a tough sell to bring him back. Especially if Pace ends up being out as GM. Trubisky does want to return. Sources were clear on that.