Bears chairman says coach Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace will return because he was ‘impressed’


Of all the words Chicago Bears fans might use to describe coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace this past season, “impressed” might not be a top answer.

While the Bears’ press conference on Wednesday to officially announce Nagy and Pace would return after an 8-8 season was heavy on acknowledgements that nobody was happy with the results, there would be no changes.

And chairman George McCaskey saying he was “impressed with both of them,” via Adam Schefter of ESPN, will stick with Bears fans for a while.

Bears want to do better, but with same coach and GM

The Bears had a good 5-1 start that included a lot of close wins that could have gone either way. They lost six in a row. Then, because the NFL expanded its playoffs and the Arizona Cardinals lost in Week 17, the Bears got into the playoffs as a No. 7 seed. Their offense was terrible in the wild-card game against the New Orleans Saints and they lost 21-9.

Teams often don’t make big moves after playoff seasons. It’s not logical but many teams follow that line of thinking. Had the NFC still had just six playoff spots or the Cardinals had won in Week 17, would Nagy and/or Pace still be with the Bears? If the answer is no, then the Bears are making a weird decision.

Especially because everyone said 2020 wasn’t good enough.

George McCaskey said after retaining Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy: “We need to see improvement. We’re not satisfied with where we are now. … We need to see progress.”

— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) January 13, 2021

George McCaskey: “As far as I’m concerned, 2020 was a losing season.”

— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) January 13, 2021

Bears fans would probably agree, considering they yelled for most of the season that everyone needed to be fired. McCaskey knows that and painted himself as someone doing the right thing in the face of criticism, which might not go over well either.

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy, left, and general manager Ryan Pace will return for the 2021 season. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Bears face a difficult QB situation

McCaskey seemed to understand that bringing back Nagy and Pace wouldn’t be popular. Pace in particular has been under fire since he drafted Mitchell Trubisky, passing on Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson.

“I don’t know, frankly, that a lot of people have confidence in this course of action,” McCaskey said, via Chris Emma of 670 The Score. “But sometimes, you have to take the route you think is best, even when it’s not the most popular decision.”

The critical decision for the Bears this offseason comes at quarterback. Trubisky will be a free agent. He played better late in the season but a lot of his best games came against awful defenses. Pace doubled down on his Trubisky mistake by trading for Nick Foles and guaranteeing him $21 million. Foles was even worse than Trubisky this season.

“Have we gotten the quarterback situation completely right? No,” Bears CEO Ted Phillips said, via Emma. “Have we won enough games? No. Everything else is completely there. … We have a solid football foundation. We have a solid football culture.”

It will be a tough sell for Bears fans. Since a NFC North title in 2018, the past two seasons have been steps back. The playoff berth this season eased some of the criticism, but most fans understood it doesn’t fix everything.

The Bears are going to run it back with Nagy and Pace. They have to decide whether Trubisky will join them or they’ll try to start over at the most important position. If it doesn’t work out, McCaskey’s words on Wednesday will be brought up again.

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