When talking about the fate of the Chicago Bears‘ top brass going into this season, a lot of people had the same thought. GM Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy are a package deal. Either both stay after 2021 or both go depending on the results. However, some people have dared to ask the obvious question. What if they’re not? Is it possible one stays while the other goes next offseason?
Team insider Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune alluded to that possibility during a recent article. The primary point of contention on the fate of Nagy and Pace is Justin Fields. By drafting the talented young quarterback, many feel the two men automatically get another season in order to see his development through. However, Biggs brought up some interesting data that doesn’t back this up.
From 2015 through 2020 — a span of six drafts — there were 20 quarterbacks selected in Round 1. The head coach was fired after the rookie season of 10 of those quarterbacks. In only two cases was the general manager/team president in charge of personnel also fired.
A national NFL scout agreed with the assessment too.
“What I look at in all of this, whether it is the GM, owner, whoever realizes, ‘OK, we finally have the quarterback we want. We better make sure we can support him with the right head coach and coaching staff in order to maximize his opportunity for success.’ They all looked at those current head coaches and they said, ‘This guy is not going to cut it.’ Perception is the GM found the quarterback or got the quarterback, so let’s give him time to support the quarterback.”
Could this happen in Chicago with Pace? Remember Nagy is already his second head coaching hire as GM of the Bears. Guys in his position almost never, ever get a third crack at that decision. Not without a playoff victory to help support it. Pace is 0-2 in that category. Would ownership dare give him yet another swing? Well, it might come down to perception in this case.
When evaluating the landscape, one must ask this question. Which of the two men has done their job “better” in the past three years? That would be Pace. Nagy has one winning season in three years and his offense has never ranked higher than 21st during that span. Pace has done fairly well with his roster approach. Roquan Smith, James Daniels, Bilal Nichols, David Montgomery, Jaylon Johnson, and Darnell Mooney stand out as recent draft successes. Khalil Mack was a big trade success. Pace has made mistakes, no doubt but of the two he is less to blame.
Ryan Pace doesn’t deserve another chance
All this being said, the man has had two cracks at getting the head coach right. Both times look like failures. John Fox couldn’t instill the necessary discipline to make his team a success. Nagy couldn’t back up his assurances that he can put a capable offense on the field. Part of the problem was Pace’s prior whiff on Mitch Trubisky. A move the Bears are still paying. Yet he got a second chance and may have delivered with Fields.
That is fine. It doesn’t mean he should get to stay though. Ryan Pace can’t hide from his other blunders on offense over the years. Kevin White, Adam Shaheen, and Anthony Miller among the biggest. Already both of his drafted offensive tackles in Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom are out with injuries. Getting Fields was nice, but the hard part now is building a good enough supporting cast.
This GM hasn’t done enough to prove he can accomplish that goal.
Maybe George McCaskey will see it differently. A lot can happen with 16 games still to go this season. Perception changes fast in the NFL. Yet given the schedule the Bears play, optimism is in short supply. Especially as Fields continues to toil on the sideline. Calls for his head will only grow louder. Cruel though it might be, throwing Nagy under the bus might be his one chance to survive.