Friday, June 2, 2023

Lions Game Put Even More Distance Between Ryan Pace And Matt Nagy


Matt Nagy won’t be fired midseason. It is pretty much a given at this point. Both because of reports that George McCaskey told the Chicago Bears locker room as much and because the head coach managed to get a sorely-needed win in Detroit. No matter how ugly said win was. While the game was a welcome sigh of relief for Nagy, it may actually have been a more important moment for GM Ryan Pace.

There is little debate at this point that Nagy will be fired. He is too far gone. The team is struggling, the offense still can’t score, and there are rumors many in the locker room are tired of him. The bigger dilemma is Pace. He is the one who hired Nagy in the first place and is responsible for constructing a roster that is among the oldest in the NFL. Not to mention the fact he’s headed for his sixth non-winning season in seven years.

So why is this even a discussion?

Namely, because a lot of the young talent Pace has acquired continues to flash despite all the problems this year. The Lions game provided the latest evidence. Andy Dalton threw for 317 yards on the afternoon. The two men spearheading that performance? Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet. Two Pace draft picks from 2020. Mooney had five catches for 123 yards. His second 100-yard game in five days. Kmet had 65 yards on eight catches.

They weren’t alone either. Another 2020 pick made a big play in the game when Trevis Gipson forced and recovered a fumble on Jared Goff in the 2nd quarter. Part of a solid performance overall by the young edge rusher. Jaylon Johnson, their best cornerback, forced a fumble as well. It was another encouraging day from that class. Not to mention another solid outing by rookie right tackle Larry Borom protecting Dalton.

Ryan Pace sales pitch to ownership is clear at this point

He will tell them that he has found enough talented players to make this team a viable playoff contender. All he needs is another chance to get the head coaching position right. Would the McCaskeys buy that? It is difficult to say. Several reports including from SM itself suggest ownership still very much likes and respects Pace. It is why they weathered the storm back in January to keep him onboard. Would they dare trust him to hire a third head coach though?

This is where the argument gets a bit muddy. Back in 2015, reports surfaced that the hiring of John Fox wasn’t Pace’s call. While he did sign off on the decision, it was spearheaded more by team consultant Ernie Accorsi. So one might posit this would technically be his second head coaching hire if the Bears did give him another chance. That feels like splitting hairs though.

Here is what we know.

Ryan Pace appears to have scored some legitimate hits in his 2020 draft class. Early signs from the 2021 version are promising as well. Particularly with Justin Fields. At the same time, the team finds itself aging and limited in terms of resources for the upcoming offseason. Largely thanks to questionable decisions he has made. Both sides have cases in terms of dismissal or retention. The remaining six games may well decide his fate.

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