The Chicago Bears are nearing the end of what’s been a tumultuous 2021 season. But things are about to get interesting heading into an offseason of change.
Following an embarrassing season, where Chicago will finish with a losing record following back-to-back .500 seasons, it sounds like change is finally on the way. Bears head coach Matt Nagy is expected to be fired at season’s end, which is just one of other potential changes within the organization this offseason.
We’re breaking down everything you need to know about Nagy’s impending firing and the potential changes coming at Halas Hall.
Why hasn’t Matt Nagy been fired yet?
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That’s a great question. Incompetence? Misguided pride? Something along those lines, I’m sure.
The Bears have never fired a head coach midseason before, which is something they’re dead-set on sticking with this season. And it really shouldn’t come as a surprise. If Marc Trestman can make it to the end of the season, surely Nagy can, too.
At this point, the expectation is Nagy will be fired at season’s end. And that’s the most important thing. Even NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said Nagy’s future is “in doubt,” although he also indicated that nothing was set in stone yet. Although it’s difficult to believe there’s anything Nagy could do to possibly salvage his job at this point.
But there is an important argument for why the Bears should fire Nagy before the end of the regular season, which has to do with a new rule about getting a head start on a coaching search.
What are the details of new rule that allows Bears to get jump-start on new coaching search?
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The NFL agreed on a trial run for a new rule that allows teams to begin interviewing coaching candidates during the final two weeks of the regular season — and it starts today!
Obviously, it applies to teams who have already fired their head coaches. In this case, the Las Vegas Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars. But it also includes teams that have informed the current head coach that they will be let go at season’s end.
So while Nagy is operating under the assumption that he’ll finish out the final two games of the season, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t already been told he’s gone.
Any interviews conducted during Weeks 17 and 18 must be virtual and are limited to two hours. It serves more as an introductory meeting before a team could decide if they’d like to proceed with a more formal, in-person meeting at season’s end.
Who would be conducting the interviews?
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That’s a great question and potentially why the Bears are choosing not to fire Nagy right now and get a jump-start on a new coaching search.
If Chicago intends to keep Ryan Pace as general manager, it would make sense to fire Nagy now and begin interviewing prospective coaching candidates. Pace would get his third shot at a head coach after Nagy and John Fox.
But if the Bears decide to move on from Pace as GM, it wouldn’t make sense to start interviewing head coaches without a GM in place.
Because if it’s not Pace interviewing coaching candidates, then who?
George McCaskey? Ted Phillips? Ernie Accorsi? Eek!
Who are some potential coaching candidates to replace Nagy?
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While there aren’t any big-name candidates entering this coaching cycle, there are certainly some intriguing options for the Bears to replace Nagy. They could target those offensive guys like New England’s Josh McDaniels, Buffalo’s Brian Daboll or Kansas City’s . Or could go defense with Tampa Bay’s Todd Bowles or Indianapolis’
Here’s a deeper dive into our list of potential coaching candidates:
Where does GM Ryan Pace stand in all of this?
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As I mentioned before, Pace’s future is certainly in question at this point. There have been reports of the Bears doing homework on potential GM replacements and Pace’s job isn’t a sure thing heading into 2022.
But he’s also not quite on the hot seat that Nagy is at this point, as Rapoport indicated he hasn’t heard that Pace’s job is in jeopardy at this point.
While Nagy has gotten most of the heat this season, Pace has played a huge role in the failure of this franchise over the last few years. Whether it’s mortgaging draft capital, failed free-agent signings/trades or failing to address important positions of need, like cornerback and offensive line.
There was once a belief that Pace and Nagy were considered to be a packaged deal. If one went, so did the other. We’ll see if that pans out.
Whether the Bears decide to part ways with Pace or find him a new role within the organization remains to be seen. But it’s certainly something worth monitoring approaching the end of the season.
Who could replace Pace?
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If the Bears do ultimately decide to move on from Pace as GM, there are a number of potential candidates they could take a look at, be it someone like Pittsburgh’s Omar Khan, Kansas City’s Mike Borgonzi, Indianapolis’ Ed Dodds or even Chicago’s very own Champ Kelly.
Here’s a deeper dive into our list of potential GM candidates:
Could there be other changes coming?
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The focus has been on Nagy’s impending firing and when it might all go down. But there have also been reports that there could be bigger changes coming within the Bears’ front office.
It sounds like Chicago might be considering restructuring the front office where things stand. So even if Pace is out as GM, they could find a new role for him, given George McCaskey’s fondness for him.
But there’s also been talks about President/CEO Ted Phillips stepping back from football operations and bringing in a “football guy (or girl)” to run the show. That would allow Phillips, who we’ve been told hasn’t meddled in the football side of things, to focus on the financials, primarily the development of a new stadium in Arlington Heights.
Whether that winds up happening, we’ll have to wait and see. After all, it does sound a little too logical for this organization.
When will all of this go down?
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Given the Bears refuse to fire a head coach midseason and other potential moves that could be on the way, it sounds like everyone should circle Jan. 10, 2022 on their calendars. It’s sure to be an intriguing day at Halas Hall that sets the stage for a busy offseason.