The Chicago Bears have fired coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace on Monday, citing a lack of progress. The decision comes after the team missed the playoffs for a sixth straight year in 2018.
The Chicago Bears fired coach Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace after six seasons. The team went just 29-55 in that time, which is the worst record for a Bears coach since Lovie Smith in 2008.
Coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace were dismissed by the Chicago Bears on Monday after the club concluded the season with a 6-11 record.
Nagy was selected NFL Coach of the Year after leading the Bears to a 12-4 record and their first appearance in the playoffs in eight years in 2018. That season, he was praised for his offensive innovations and unassuming demeanor, but the Bears were unable to maintain their success over the next three seasons.
They went 8-8 in 2019 and then 8-8 again in 2020, when the league’s postseason field was increased and they were forced to play in the wild-card round. Nagy was never able to repeat his first season, owing in part to the fact that the quarterback he inherited, Mitchell Trubisky, the No. 2 overall choice in the 2017 draft, never improved enough.
After the Bears moved up to pick quarterback Justin Fields, Trubisky left through free agency last spring. Fields’ 10 starts with the Bears resulted in a 2-8 record, and he concluded the season with the lowest Total Quarterback Rating in the league (26.0). Nagy led the Bears to a 34-31 regular-season record and a 0-2 playoff record in four seasons.
The story has been building since the end of November, when a local newspaper said Nagy would be dismissed after the Bears’ Thanksgiving Day game against the Lions in Detroit. Nagy said at the time that he was ignorant of his imminent termination, but no one from the Bears’ front office or ownership was quick to reject the news.
A day later, at a team meeting, owner George McCaskey assured players that Nagy would not be dismissed following the game. The Bears defeated the Lions 16-14, but it was their lone victory during a six-week losing run.
According to ESPN’s Dan Graziano, the Bears have asked permission to interview Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier for the position of head coach.
The Bears will cast a wide net for a new GM and head coach, with veteran NFL executive Bill Polian heading their search committee. It’s likely, according to McCaskey, that the club will hire a coach before the general manager.
“With Bill’s leadership, we’ll be able to identify a GM-coach combo that will work,” McCaskey said. “We’d rather recruit the general manager first.”
The next general manager will report directly to ownership, bypassing club president Ted Phillips, who will be focused on the possibility of the Bears constructing a new stadium in neighboring Arlington Heights. Phillips will continue to serve on the committee. Between ownership and the general manager, McCaskey opposed the concept of a president of football operations.
“The GM has ultimate football responsibility and control over the whole football operation in our system,” he said. “In various sports, different frameworks work for different teams. We believe that this is the greatest arrangement for us.”
McCaskey was asked whether the club will communicate with Fields before making a decision. The Bears have failed to score points under multiple different head coaches during the last decade.
“Justin will not be a part of the search process,” McCaskey answered, “but we will be extremely keen to hear from both general manager and head-coach candidates about how they intend to get the most out of the quarterback position for us.”
Nagy, 43, joined the Bears after spending eight years with longstanding head coach Andy Reid, five with the Kansas City Chiefs and three with the Philadelphia Eagles. He was elevated to offensive coordinator by Reid in 2017, a year before he was hired by the Bears.
During his seven seasons with the Bears, Pace hired two coaches and traded up to pick two quarterbacks. His teams made two playoffs appearances but failed to win a game. The Bears haven’t won a playoff game since 2010, and they’re 1-3 in the playoffs since winning Super Bowl XLI in 2007.
After his first season in 2018, when he guided the Bears to a 12-4 record and their first playoff appearance in eight years, Matt Nagy was named NFL Coach of the Year. Icon Sportswire/Robin Alam
Bears running back David Montgomery remarked, “They took a risk on me.” “They took a risk on a poor kid from Cincinnati who wasn’t thought to be skilled enough to even be considered for a spot on the team. That’s why it’s so upsetting to me. Because they were willing to put their necks on the line for me. And for that, I am grateful. I’m just sitting here, waiting to see what happens next.”
Pace selected Nagy as his second coach. John Fox served as the team’s interim quarterback for three seasons while it moved away from quarterback Jay Cutler. Pace was a bold trader in 2018, signing pass rusher Khalil Mack as well as making trades to pick Trubisky and Fields.
However, both transactions maintained a pattern of trading away first-round selections that began with the Bears’ acquisition of Cutler in 2009. In 2009, 2010, 2019, and 2020, the team traded away their first-round choices, and they don’t have one in 2022. Only Smith has proven to be a long-term solution among Pace’s four first-round picks: receiver Kevin White (2015), linebacker Leonard Floyd (2016), Trubisky, linebacker Roquan Smith (2018), and Fields.
Pace had some free agency success, landing receiver Allen Robinson II and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, among others, and drafting promising receiver Darnell Mooney. However, it was not enough to make the Bears postseason challengers every year.
Jesse Rogers of ESPN contributed to this article.
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