The Chicago Bears came in with a ton of question marks after a disappointing 2019 season. With Super Bowl expectations in the air, they fell to an 8-8 finish. Questions were raised about the overall structure of the team. Especially at the top. Was it time to consider that maybe Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace weren’t the right guys for the job?
Those conversations were had. Nagy’s offense continued to be a source of constant frustration. It lacked identity and couldn’t seem to put its players in the best position to succeed. A valid criticism that still holds true. Pace didn’t help his head coach out though. The overall talent level on offense could best be called average for the most part.
Much of that thanks to his big misses in previous drafts.
Names like Kevin White, Mitch Trubisky, and Adam Shaheen come to mind. To say nothing of his inability to build a consistently effective offensive line. Yet despite all of this, the two men answered the bell. Pace delivered a quality offseason on a limited budget, finding some underrated talent at several positions.
Nagy instilled the team with a gritty mental toughness that they’ve ridden to a 5-1 start. The best Chicago has seen in eight years. It isn’t always pretty, but nobody can deny he has them playing hard for 60 minutes every week. Now the Bears are in position for their second playoff appearance in three years.
Is this enough to save Nagy and Pace? ESPN insiders Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano seem to think so.
“The Bears are 5-1, somehow, and a run to the playoffs could spare not only coach Matt Nagy but also GM Ryan Pace, in spite of the disastrous outcome of the Mitchell Trubisky pick. Most people with whom we’ve talked think the Nagy/Pace pairing gets another year at least, which means another shot to try to solve the quarterback situation there.”
Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace deserve credit
It isn’t a secret that Nagy and Pace have their fair share of detractors. Lots of fans hate Nagy for his baffling decisions on offense. They also hate Pace for drafting Trubisky over Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. An unforgivable offense in their eyes. That said, what the two have accomplished this year cannot be understated.
They entered an offseason with limited spending money and no 1st round pick. Then for good measure, their entire plans were run through the shredder by the arrival of COVID-19. The pandemic swiftly wiped away minicamps, OTAs, and the preseason. Scouts weren’t allowed to attend pro days or other usual events in person. It was a nightmare scenario.
Through all of that, Pace upgraded his roster with names like Jimmy Graham, Robert Quinn, Tashaun Gipson, Jaylon Johnson, and Darnell Mooney. Nagy overcame a quarterback controversy between Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles and still won five of his first six games. Three of those wins involved double-digit comebacks.
These are accomplishments and need to be applauded.
Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace aren’t perfect. However, it’s easy to forget they’re still quite young. Pace is 43 and Nagy is 42. Both are still learning on the job and seem to be finding their ways. They’ve yet to have a losing season together and it appears that streak will continue this season. So it shouldn’t be a surprise they will get more time in 2021. They’ve earned it.