The Chicago Bears finished 8-8 in 2019. Nothing changed after that. Matt Nagy stayed the head coach and Ryan Pace the GM. They spent a lot of money in the offseason, made some calculated moves in the draft, and ran it back in 2020. Now here they are again. The team is 8-8 or 8-9 if one wants to add their ugly playoff loss in New Orleans to the total. There are few signs this team is going in the right direction.
Yet after two full days of deliberation, team chairman George McCaskey reached the conclusion that the best thing for the Bears was to keep Pace and Nagy in charge. Several reasons were laid out as to why. For one their leadership through what was a tumultuous season including the COVID-19 pandemic and the struggles of a six-game losing streak. Another was the emergence of some young talents like Darnell Mooney and David Montgomery.
Yet the biggest buzz word McCaskey kept going back to? Continuity.
“Retaining the continuity and sticking with these guys is the best route for the Bears at this time.”
It’s interesting that he chose such a thing to focus on. It isn’t like he would be firing either man in a drastically short turnaround. Pace has led the Bears for six seasons. Nagy just finished his third. Nobody can say either of them didn’t get a fair shot. Yet McCaskey believes firing them would do more harm than good. How did he reach that mindset? There may have been a clue in a comment he made shortly after when he revealed he spoke to other owners around the NFL for advice.
George McCaskey said he consults John Mara, Michael Bidwill, and Art Rooney on how to run Bears.
— Chris Dougherty (@cdoughertynfl) January 13, 2021
While consulting your peers is never a bad thing, it’s McCaskey’s choices that should give people anxiety about whether he’s getting the right advice. John Mara owns the New York Giants. While the team won two Super Bowls early in his presidency, it wasn’t with a team he’d personally helped construct. Since assuming full control of the organization, it has just one winning season since 2013. Michael Bidwill? He owns the Arizona Cardinals, a franchise with no championships and just four playoff appearances since 1999.
The most interesting name of the three though is Art Rooney.
Chicago Bears have deep ties to the Rooney family
He is the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers. One of the most respected in all of football. Six Super Bowl championships including two in 2005 and 2008 under his direction. If McCaskey was going to lean on anybody for advice, it would be him. This is where the word “continuity” becomes prevalent. No ownership is the NFL has embraced that concept more literally than the Rooneys have.
Since 1969, the Steelers have employed three different head coaches. Three. First was Chuck Noll, then Bill Cowher, and finally Mike Tomlin who has run the team since 2007. Kevin Colbert, their general manager has been in charge since 2000. Pittsburgh is an organization that has embraced the value of continuity unlike any other. Let the GM work through the roster issues and the head coach lead the men.
The Steelers have had one losing season since 2003.
One can easily imagine this was part of the advice Rooney gave McCaskey. After moving on from previous regimes at the first sign of trouble, maybe it’s time to step back and let the men you hired and believe in work through the problems. Yes, they’ve made their share of mistakes, but they’re also young and have shown signs of growth.
Pace is drafting better in recent years. Nagy’s leadership is not something one can argue. Maybe with a little more time, they can solve the final problems holding this organization back from contending for a championship. The Chicago Bears brass better hope that ends up being the case.