THE MOMENT OF TRUTH by SCOTT LEWIS
Chicago Bears reporter Scott Lewis discusses the future of a broken Chicago Bears franchise.
THE MOMENT OF TRUTH
As we head to the end of yet another season in the NFL Chicago Bears fans find themselves yet again in a familiar place, the land of disappointment. Now there were some things to be excited about this season compared to last year. For the first time in the modern era, the Bears had drafted a young franchise QB in Justin Fields with the 11th overall pick in last year's draft. Justin played in 12 games and threw for 1,870 yards, 7 touchdowns,10 interceptions & a rookie passing rating of 73.2. He also ran for 420 yards, 2 touchdowns but fumbled it a very high 12 times. Justin was put on the covid list right before the season finale against the Vikings as I’m writing this these will probably be his final season numbers. There are some ups & downs here but that’s what comes with rookie QB’s & the sky will be the limit with a new coaching staff & better weapons in place.
Now speaking of new coaching that brings me to the one & only Matthew Nagy. The coach who was hired four years ago & was supposed to be the savior & the guy who would finally bring 21st-century offense to 1920 Football Drive. There were some critics right when Nagy was hired because of how the Chiefs broke down & lost their playoff game to Tennessee where the Chiefs blew a double-digit lead due to Nagy’s conservative play calling in the 2nd half of the game. Andy Reid being the good man that he is put the blame on him & not Nagy but little did we know at the time that this would be a staple of what a Matt Nagy-led offense would come to be like.
Matt Nagy’s first season in Chicago was an amazing success as the team finished with a 12-4 record and won their first NFC North division title in almost a decade. We all know how that season ended and as I type this today it is the 3rd anniversary of the now-infamous “double doink” game where the Bears were eliminated at home by the then-defending Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles. We can all sit up here & blame Cody Parkey for that fun season coming to an end but I am here to tell you that while Parkey didn’t win the game he damn sure wasn’t the main reason the Bears lost that game. The Bears were the 21st ranked passing offense in 2018 and only scored 15 points in that Wild Card game loss(9 of which were scored by Cody Parkey field goals). Since that season Nagy’s passing offenses would go on to rank 25th, 22nd & 32nd, a terrible accomplishment that not even Dick Jauron & John Fox did in their time in Chicago.
Now I know some of you are reading these stats are saying “well Mitchell Trubisky was trash” and yes that is true & he definitely should shoulder half of the blame for why the passing attack was so bad. Which brings me to my next problem and that just happens to be the man who drafted Trubisky, Bears General Manager Ryan Pace. Now with this being my first season covering the team I have had the chance to meet Ryan Pace and he’s actually a pretty nice guy but a nice guy who is very bad at his job. Ryan Pace was hired 7 long-ass years ago in 2015 after former Bears GM Phil Emery was let go. Ryan Pace came into this job with little front office experience only being an assistant & a scout in the New Orleans Saints organization. In his 8 seasons as GM the Bears have only made the postseason twice(0-2 record) and has a record of 48-64 at the time I am writing this.
Yes Ryan Pace has had some hits in his time here like drafting guys like Eddie Jackson, Tarik Cohen, David Montgomery & Darnell Mooney in later rounds of the draft & of course trading for one of the best pash rushers in the NFL, Khalil Mack. Mr.Pace has way more misses than hits though like not hitting on any first-round pick outside of Roquan Smith, trading three draft picks just to jump one spot to draft Mitchell Trubisky over Patrick Mahomes, giving Mike Glennon $45 million to “mentor” Trubisky, trading a 4th rounder for Nick Foles just to give Andy Dalton $10 million the next season when he already had an old vet in Foles. Now yes Pace did address the issue by trading up to get Justin Fields this past April but he gets no credit for spending even more draft capital just to clean up his previous mess, you can swing big but it doesn’t matter when you strikeout.
Now let's get to the present by the time you read this article Matt Nagy & Ryan Pace will either already be fired or a few days away from being fired & that is great news for Bears fans but we also need to stay focused on what the true problem with this franchise is. The problem lays up top with the philosophy of how the team is run by George McCaskey & Ted Phillips. It might be wishful thinking hoping that Ted Phillips is also entering the unemployment line with Nagy & Pace knowing that the Bears are a mom & pop shop. The McCaskeys at the bare minimum(no pun intended) should move Ted to the new arena project in Arlington Heights, IL, and hire a real football mind to get the right hires for GM & Coach.
Despite who will be the new GM or Coach next season nothing will change for the beloved Bears if the right people aren’t hired to make the right decisions. The Bears have little room for error as they might have finally struck gold at QB the franchises' full mission should be to surround Justin Fields with the best shot at succeeding & not wasting his talent. It would be peak Bears to finally get a young QB just to ruin him. You don’t have to look far to see what a full franchise turnaround can do for a once iconic franchise & their fan base, all you have to do is look to the West Side of the city to see the success of the 1st place Chicago Bulls. Just like the Bulls 2 years ago this fan base is fed up & wants change, one great offseason could change the fortunes for decades to come. What will the Bears do in this moment of truth? Will the final act like the charter franchise of the league or will they continue to be stuck in their ways & be mired in mediocrity, only time will tell.