There is plenty of room for optimism lately at Halas Hall. Reports have surfaced over the past week that momentum is building for head coach Matt Nagy to return in 2021. No doubt a product of him being able to lift the team out of a six-game losing streak to three-straight wins. Even Mitch Trubisky is building a case for a return next year after posting one of the best stretches of his career the past four games. Notice though that nobody has made mention of GM Ryan Pace?
There is a reason for that. His fate is hardly as rose-tinted as the other two. Bears insiders have hinted for weeks that Nagy was likely the safer of the two if somebody was getting fired. Sources have informed me that even after the recent three-game winning streak this month, Pace’s fate remains questionable at best. The words used to describe the situation were “not at all a lock to return.” A lot of things are working against him.
Much of it centering on some of his more recent high-profile moves.
Ownership isn’t happy with the results of the Robert Quinn signing nor the trade for Nick Foles. Two decisions that cost the organization $51 million in guaranteed money. Foles went 2-5 as the starting quarterback this season while Quinn has two sacks. That is a lot of cash thrown away from almost no return. The COVID-19 hit to their finances doesn’t make that looking any better either.
In addition there of course is the Mitch Trubisky issue. Despite his recent success, the overall body of work by the former #2 overall pick can be called average at best. Especially compared to his peers from the 2017 class in Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Last but not least is Anthony Miller. Pace gave up a lot to move up and draft the receiver out of Memphis. While he’s had some bright moments, he’s failed to take that next step. Rookie Darnell Mooney has rendered him almost irrelevant for close to a month.
Ryan Pace desperately needs the Bears to make the playoffs
Right now the only thing that has him clinging to his job is the recent emergence of some younger talents on the roster. Roquan Smith, his 1st round pick in 2018, is closing in on a possible All-Pro season after delivering two interceptions against Jacksonville. Bilal Nichols has become a force on the interior defensive line. David Montgomery just topped 1,000 yards rushing and has over 1200 yards from scrimmage this season. Jaylon Johnson has been the best rookie corner in the NFL this season and Mooney, as mentioned earlier, is becoming a true weapon in the passing game.
This has kept the flames around his seat from raging out of control. It hasn’t put out the fire though. Ryan Pace is balanced on a knife-edge. Belief is his fate could hang on the final results of next weekend. If the Bears lose to Green Bay, it would put his record against the Packers at 2-10 since taking over in 2015. It would also be the fifth time in six seasons the Bears have finished without a winning record under him.
Is backing into the playoffs enough to save his job? It’s not nearly as open and shut as people think.