Remember that climactic scene from Raiders Of The Lost Ark when the Nazis opened the ark, believing they had triumphed, only to see the powerful forces inside completely destroy them? That is basically what happened to Matt Nagy on Sunday. He had the game in hand only to watch almost an act of God reach down to smite him as the Ravens pulled off an improbable game-winning drive. Just like that, Nagy’s time as Chicago Bears head coach died. The body is still warm but any life it had has faded. Whether it happens the Friday after Thanksgiving or at the end of the year, the result will be the same. He is done. The bigger question centers on the man who hired him, Ryan Pace.
The Bears GM has held his position since 2015. In that span, the organization has managed one winning season and two playoff trips. No playoff victory and just two wins against the hated rival Green Bay Packers. From a logical perspective, Pace doesn’t have a leg to stand on at this point. He misfired on the Mitch Trubisky pick. He misfired on the Nagy hire. Now he’s responsible for one of the oldest rosters in the league that is currently 3-7 on the year.
The McCaskeys can’t possibly consider keeping him in that job another year, could they?
That is where the words “it’s complicated” become appropriate. Nobody is entirely sure what is going on with Pace. All that can be said is he’s not under fire nearly as much inside Halas Hall as Nagy. However, that does not mean he is safe. Jeff Hughes of Da Bears Blog indicated that the original idea of firing the coach and keeping Pace a few weeks ago has begun to lose steam. Hence why it felt like the GM used some public PR tricks to pump up his stock this past weekend.
One thing I was told today: the momentum around firing Nagy/keeping Pace is dwindling. But Pace is clearly attempting to put some distance between himself and the head coach.
— DaBearsBlog (@dabearsblog) November 22, 2021
Further clarification wasn’t long in coming. Shortly after the explosive report from Patch.com that Nagy would be fired after the Thanksgiving game in Detroit, Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus had an update on Pace. From the people he has spoken to, the belief is that he will be removed from the GM position. However, it will not be an outright firing but more of a “reassignment” elsewhere in the organization.
Not an official report, but my understanding based on several conversations is that Ryan Pace is probably not going anywhere this offseason.
Talks of a potential re-organization at the top of the football operation seem very real, perhaps with Pace taking on a new/different role
— Brad Spielberger, Esq. (@PFF_Brad) November 23, 2021
Ryan Pace could be getting the John Paxson treatment
For those who aren’t Chicago Bulls fans, that organization did something similar in 2020. After multiple losing seasons, Paxson lost his position as Vice President of Basketball Operations. However, the Reinsdorfs didn’t want to fire him. So they moved him to the position of Senior Advisor of Basketball Operations. Then they went out and hired Arturas Karnisovas to fill his old spot. Paxson still has a role in the organization, but the real power lay with Karnisovas.
That is the basic idea behind what the Bears could do with Ryan Pace. Keep him involved in organizational decisions but hire a new GM to assume control of the roster. This would suit some fans fine since they feel Pace has certain good qualities that shouldn’t be thrown away. Others view it as an organization rewarding a man for mediocrity.
Whether it ends up going that way remains to be seen.
Much of it may hinge on the next few weeks. If several of the young players the Bears drafted continue to play well? That might be enough to help Pace’s case. If the team continues to bottom out then what little credibility he has left will go up in smoke.