Jump to content

Weighing Futures of Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy


Recommended Posts

It's often said Chicago is a tough place to coach.

The fans are demanding, excessive media exposure creates pressure and owners can be impatient.

The truth is owners are impatient these days in all sports, fans have always been demanding everywhere and all media creates pressure, especially in larger markets.

For this reason and the fact their approaching the need for contract extensions, Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace enter their fourth year together, the seventh season of Pace's tenure as GM, facing what looks like a pivotal year.

Then again, should it be a pivotal year?

When Pace has shown he has the connections within the NFL to make a late deal to move up 11 places in order to steal quarterback Justin Fields at a fair price, does it buy him extra time?

The futures of Pace and Nagy are difficult to analyze because of mixed signals from their bosses and because of mixed production. 

In Nagy's case, the recent history of NFL coaching does nothing to clear matters up, but does seem to argue his case.

Remember the postseason press conference and the good-cop, bad-cop routine? Bears CEO Ted Phillips was the tough guy, board chairman George McCaskey the good cop.

"Making the playoffs is a step in the right direction, but it's not enough," Phillips said. "We need to win in the playoffs and we need to compete for and win a championship. We know we need to get better."

But McCaskey followed by backing off this tough talk: "As far as what we need to see, we need to see progress. It's not a certain number of wins. We don't know what's going to happen in the 2021 season. We just had an unprecedented event during the 2020 season. So we don't know what injuries are going to occur, what other challenges are going to arise, but we've got to see progress."

That's about as vague as it gets, which is just as well because all the arguments both ways lead to uncertainty.

Buying Time for Ryan Pace

Pace found the franchise a quarterback he thinks can be the winner they need but he thought this about Mitchell Trubisky, as well. 

He made the famed trade for Khalil Mack, signed successful free agents like Danny Trevathan, Akiem Hicks and Allen Robinson and had his share of both draft day successes and draft day failures. For every Kevin White and Trubisky, there is a Roquan Smith, Eddie Jackson, Darnell Mooney and David Montgomery.

Trading up for Trubisky was one of the all-time NFL disasters but it's possible trading up to get Fields will make the franchise. No one knows this, and one season with a rookie quarterback who might not play much is unlikely to satisfy many skeptics about the need to retain Pace based on the quarterback.

Ryan Dengel

@BdrDengel

Ryan Pace crushed the 2021 draft and botched most of the rest of the off-season. Fuller, Dalton and ARob all are pretty awful moves.

Ian Rapoport

@RapSheet

As the franchise tag deadline nears, the #Bears and star WR Allen Robinson are not expected to reach a long-term extension, sources say. It appears that Robinson will play on his $17.88M tag for 2021.

4:07 PM · Jul 13, 2021

6

3

Copy link to Tweet

Bears ownership already may have tossed the lifeline to Pace with one word: collaboration.

This was the buzzword for their postseason press conference. Phillips and McCaskey used it to describe the work being done in personnel by Pace since he had Nagy on board to work with beginning in 2018. They've seen a better quality of personnel brought in the draft since then. It's not necessarily the same in free agency but the salary cap has had something to do with this. The 2020 Bears debut of Robert Quinn weighs heavily against Pace.

 

WHERE DOES MATT NAGY RANK IN SI'S POWER RATINGS FOR COACHES?

However, in Pace's case it all depends on how much the Bears value this collaboration and how much credit they give him for the second quarterback he has selected.

With Nagy, it could all be tied to what he does on the field. The pivoting point could be whether they can simply avoid a total disaster, the kind when teams wind up picking very early on Day 1 of the draft. 

If they do this and then move forward with their new quarterback in place, it would be easy to see how ownership interprets this as progress.

Matt Nagy's Promise and Failure

 

Bears coaches after 3 seasons

While there are obvious past failures dragging down Pace despite some successes, Nagy's failures are a bit less obvious.

Coaches are hired to win games and if ownership went bottom line then they would need their heads examined to fire Nagy.

There have been 33 head coaches hired in the NFL over the last five years and 15 have been fired. Some have been fired twice. Only four of the 33 have never experienced a losing season. Matt Nagy is one of them, and he has a 28-20 record.

In some respects, he's imitating the timeline of mentor Andy Reid. It took Reid 21 years as a head coach to win a Super Bowl, even though he managed to avoid losing seasons in 17 of the years before he won it all. Nagy hasn't had winning records on a level with Reid's early years, but he has avoided any losing regular seasons.

The other coaches besides Nagy who have been hired the last five seasons without a losing record are Mike Vrabel (29-19), Matt LaFleur (26-6) and Kevin Stefanski (11-5).

Mike Mularkey never had a losing season as the official Tennessee head coach, but he took over the Titans as an interim and had a 2-7 record then so his overall record was 20-21. He was canned after consecutive 9-7 finishes and one playoff victory.  

illwill (Justin Fields Stan Account)

@79illwill

My biggest worries heading into the 2021 season is not any one particular player… It’s Matt Nagy and Sean Desai. They hold the keys to success

3:29 PM · Jul 17, 2021

96

18

Copy link to Tweet

The difference between Nagy and the other three coaches who never had a losing season is they all achieved at least one playoff victory. This is the only real argument that can be made in favor of firing Nagy regarding wins and losses. Apparently it matters somewhat or Phillips wouldn't have been talking about it in January.

In Nagy's case, there is one other matter counteracting his bottom line.

In his case, it hasn't exactly been promises made and promises kept.

The Bears have floundered for years on offense and they brought him to Chicago as a savior for the offense. He also came with a reputation for being able to develop quarterbacks. This seemed a bit presumptuous because Patrick Mahomes hadn't yet established he would be in the running for MVP every year. Still, this is what was said.

Nagy hasn't developed a Bears quarterback to date because Trubisky failed, but everyone is interested to see what Nagy can do with Fields, a quarterback he actually wanted. How he handles Fields even in Year 1 will matter. Laying all the blame on Trubisky doesn't seem fair because the offense actually looked worse when Nick  Foles operated it last year. 

As for the offense, it's gone straight backward after a first season when they were ninth in scoring, 11th in rushing, 14th in passing touchdowns and 14th in net yards per pass attempt. They've been 29th and 26th in scoring, 27th and 25th in rushing, 25th and 18th in passing TDs and in yards per pass attempt they've been last (32nd) and 26th. This is total regression.

Erik Duerrwaechter

@EDuerrwaechter

“Time is now” for Matt Nagy to prove he’s the right head coach for the Bears, period. Plenty of people in the league would love a chance to coach up Justin Fields if Nagy isn’t careful.

ProFootballTalk

@ProFootballTalk

Matt Nagy: "Time is now" for Bears offense. https://wp.me/pbBqYq-bXot

6:15 AM · Jul 13, 2021

1

Copy link to Tweet

On the other hand, the overall work and winning count most. 

San Franciso's Kyle Shanahan is often feted by national media and placed on a pedestal. But he has had three miserable seasons of 6-10 or worse and one Super Bowl season when they lost to the Chiefs.

Meanwhile, Nagy gets heat nationally and also locally. Something doesn't seem right about this picture when he has a 28-20 record but Shanahan is labeled a genius and is 29-35 in his four years with only one winning season.

Robert Schmitz

@robertkschmitz

Kyle Shanahan, an "offensive genius", has a 29-35 record and 3 seasons with 6 or less wins. Matt Nagy, "a bum", has a 28-20 record with 2 playoff appearances despite fielding some of the worst QBs in the league. Something tells me #Bears narratives are about to change.

10:11 AM · Jul 16, 2021

1.9K

111

Copy link to Tweet

Bottom Line

It would seem likely ownership would be willing to go with contract extensions if there is enough positive to seize upon in terms of record or offensive improvement.

Making the playoffs and winning would lock it all up quickly.

With Fields in the fold and much of the blame for offensive failure already being focused on Trubisky's inability to read defenses, it seems the new quarterback can give Nagy time to show he can still accomplish what the goal of elevating the long-dormant Bears offense.

Since Pace brought in Fields, he'd go along for the ride.

If a complete disaster of a season occurs and Nagy no longer can say he has avoided losing records, if Andy Dalton struggles so much early that it leaves the Bears buried, then all bets would be off.

Ownership would have to decide whether Nagy deserves a chance to develop the quarterback he and Pace collaborated to find.

Since it took collaboration for Pace's improvement, if it came down to firing Nagy then it's difficult to see why they'd ever be willing then to retain Pace alone.

 

This article first appeared on Bear Digest and was syndicated with permission.

Edited by soulman
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not entirely certain the McCaskeys wouldn't retain Pace while suggesting the Nagy not be given an extension but I will say that this year will have a lot to do with that.  Nagy's contract runs through 2022 and it's rare when an NFL HC enters his lame duck season without having been extended.

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, soulman said:

I'm not entirely certain the McCaskeys wouldn't retain Pace while suggesting the Nagy not be given an extension but I will say that this year will have a lot to do with that.  Nagy's contract runs through 2022 and it's rare when an NFL HC enters his lame duck season without having been extended.

I could see Pace sticking and Nagy leaving. Pace hasn't overstocked the shelves but they sure as hell aren't bare like when he got here, so to speak. If Fields shows promise but the offense sucks overall I could see this happening. I still kinda prefer to have a GM and HC in sync with one another but if the HC develops Fields to a top 10 QB then the GM just has to be competent to have a lot of success. I have no reason to believe Nagy is that guy to do that yet though. QB play has been consistently bad since he has been here. Daboll is admittedly my top HC prospect ATM too.

While I have been super pissed about some of the choices Pace has made or not made he isn't incompetent at all. He just hasn't shown to be great yet either. Maybe Fields and Jenkins get me to quit griping about his failures at two premier positions.

I also really hope so because I would have made the exact same two moves if in the same spot, gotta keep the ego strong right?  lol

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

IMHO Ryan Pace came into a very bad situation.  No matter what GMcC and Teddy Bears say, and others may disagree, I believe his HC John Fox was more or less forced upon him and as we all know by now Fox had already mailed it in as a HC in Denver and all the Bears were to him was a plus millions to his retirement fund.

Thanks to the total incompetence of Phil Emery the Bears roster was depleted of front line talent and we were not in a good position cap wise.  This is what Pace inherited as well and more than likely why other prospects had turned the Bears interest in them as their GM down.  It was not exactly and easy deal for a rookie GM to step into.

But we've also watched him grow into the job becoming a better personnel guy and cap manager.  The current team is far more talented than the one he took over and if not for a significant unplanned for reduction in the 2021 cap we would still have been in good shape and would in all likelihood not have lost Kyle Fuller in FA.

Much depends on how good Justin Fields is and how quickly he can establish himself as a franchise QB.  If it turns out that he is "that guy" then Pace's trade for him will be legendary just as his trade for Trubisky is but on the positive side this time.  If Tevin Jenkins becomes a top shelf OT that will only enhance Pace's reputation for shrewd moves.

 

Matt Nagy on the other hand was sold to fans as an offensive mastermind who would take the Bears offense into the 21st century at long last and all we've seen from him in that regard is a regression from 2018 'til now.  Andy Dalton is an average NFL QB with a ton of experience.  If he cannot run Nagy's schemes successfully he will be the 4th QB who has struggled with this and IMHO it then becomes time to seriously question whether or not he's the guy we want coaching Justin Fields.

I'm not looking for a Super Bowl run or even a deep play off run but even with Andy Dalton if Nagy's offense can't produce an average of more than 17 points a game, carry the team to a playoff berth, and win at least one playoff game I would not offer him an extension prior to the 2022 season and if the best he can manage is another .500 season I would be searching to a new HC before the 2021 season ended.  By then he'll either have shown his worth as a HC or shown he lacks any.

JMHO

Edited by soulman
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

In agreement with pretty much everything you said there Soul. Even when the Pace-bashing was at his worst (and when I was most sour on him) I was higher on him than Nagy. Nagy has done little to impress me and I attribute his winning record more to Pace's moves and Fangio/Pagano than Nagy. His offense has 1 season where it wasn't terrible, and for almost half the season it was still pretty crappy.

 

Pace has some flops, I think the loss of Fuller hurts a fair bit, if we lose ARob that will hurt a lot IMO too. Quinn's bloated deal is backfiring. Of course no GM can be perfect, but these still end up being black marks on Pace's resume I'd wager. I hope the Fields move makes us forget it.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Sugashane said:

Pace has some flops, I think the loss of Fuller hurts a fair bit, if we lose ARob that will hurt a lot IMO too. Quinn's bloated deal is backfiring. Of course no GM can be perfect, but these still end up being black marks on Pace's resume I'd wager. I hope the Fields move makes us forget it.

So far the move to sign Quinn is looking shaky and if he doesn't recover from 2020 and ring up some serious sack and pressure stats this season it will go down as yet another unmitigated disaster which cost us our Pro Bowl LCB and may also have contributed to the lowball offer we gave ARob.

If we end up releasing Quinn due to another sub par season the loss of a #1 CB and the loss of a #1 WR as a result may create a huge swing in the perceptions of Pace's decision making.  Having given up yet another 1st round pick to draft Fields it may be very difficult to replace both of those positions with equal caliber players if Vildor doesn't pan out and Johnson and Trufant fail to remain healthy again this year.

We're walking on some very thin ice at CB this year.

Edited by soulman
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Pace is a good talent evaluator. His problem is that he too often gets caught chasing individual problems and seems to lack a more cohesive long-term plan.

My biggest concern is that Pace gets too attached to the idea of winning with the core he built around Hicks, Jackson, and Mack and fails to pivot towards a team built around Fields. There are competing timelines in the Bears' plan and IMO the best course of action is to sacrifice the current core to build for 2-3 years from now.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Bears coach Matt Nagy continues to be a sell nationally rather than a buy.

At least there are some among the sellers who realize his plight.

Nagy, who has third-best odds to be fired first this year according to BetOnline.ag (17-2), is ranked the NFL's 18th best coach according to Connor Orr of Sports Illustrated in SI's coaching power rankings.

It's a bit better ranking than many of the other ratings to pop up throughout the offseason.

 

The ranking was of 25 NFL coaches who have led their teams in games. The rookie coaches were graded separately, which makes an infinite amount more sense than the polls that lump them in with those who have experience.

Orr points out something many haven't been able to explain either with their coach rankings or with analytics.

"He made the playoffs with (Mitchell) Trubisky twice," Orr wrote. "He elevated an offense that had no earthly business being as good as it was."

The Nagy critic would be quick to point out he didn't exactly elevate the offense anywhere. They've been mired for two years, but trying to coach with Trubisky as quarterback had to be a test of patience.

Pro Football Focus has the Bears graded as having only the 23rd best roster. So if Nagy had Trubisky as his quarterback and the 23rd best roster, yet he made the playoffs twice, how is it he deserves such a mediocre ranking? No one really has a concrete answer for that one.

 

Nagy ranked just ahead of 19th-ranked Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy, who oddsmakers have as the favorite to be fired first.

The 18th ranking is as good as it gets for Nagy in these sort of things.

CBS has him ranked 19th, behind Carolina's Matt Rhuhle, who is rated 24th in the SI poll.

"He's clearly on the hot season (and deserves to be) thanks to sputtering offense and two straight 8-8 finishes," CBS' Cody Benjamin writes, while also acknowledging the handicap working with Trubisky had to be.

Nagy had been ranked 22nd by Pro Football Network. 

Pro Football Focus came out with coaching rankings but only rated the top seven, and Nagy obviously didn't rate a spot in that crowd. 

Even when he was NFL Coach of the Year, Nagy wouldn't have found so lofty a place.

So, what does it all mean? 

Before last season Doug Pederson was ranked fifth and sixth in two polls like these. And look where he is now.

 

This article first appeared on Bear Digest and was syndicated with permission.

Link to post
Share on other sites
51 minutes ago, abstract_thought said:

My biggest concern is that Pace gets too attached to the idea of winning with the core he built around Hicks, Jackson, and Mack and fails to pivot towards a team built around Fields. There are competing timelines in the Bears' plan and IMO the best course of action is to sacrifice the current core to build for 2-3 years from now.

That's a very good observation.  If Fields pans out we'll have an offense that's finally on an ascending timeline vs a defense that's aging and may be approaching it's descending timeline.  Pace still has his work cut out for him over the next two off seasons.

Three of our top DL and Edge guys are now 30 or 30+ which requires some evaluation as to just how much longer they can remain top producers at their respective positions.  Injury issues have already impacted the performance of all last season with Quinn being nearly useless because of it.

I'm of the opinion that great DL and Edge guys don't necessarily hit a wall after age 30 provided they can remain healthy and uninjured.  Many others have done it but should the injuries become chronic it creates a waste of cap resources when a star player can't play regularly at 100%.

Furthermore we seem to be at least another year away from Fields taking over at QB, it appears we'll need to replace our #1 WR next spring, and the OL while rebuilding still has it's work cut out for it in terms of the cohesiveness and experience playing together can bring.

As the analysis and grading Jonathan Wood has done shows our offense lags far behind our defense in it's grade and lacks players with the same star power many of our defenders have acquired.  Somewhere along the way Pace will need to bring about a better balance on offense.

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

If you go by Bears history they are definitely on hot seat this year.

If you go by dicta and reading between lines of comments made then they are not.

I think they have at least one more year and my largest reasons for saying that is veiled comments made about their futures and dodging of questions about their contracts AND fact that McCasky is trying to model the direction of org. after the Steelers (saying he has been taking advice from Rooney a lot of late).

The Steelers don't fire coaches and GMs often, but rather tend to keep them long term and it does serve them well to do so.   So if he is taking Rooney's advice Nagy/Pace are sticking around for awhile.

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

My beef with Nagy is he is acting like this a throw away year.

I can get that thought process with a MT rookie year as he was a one year starter that didn't know anything and didn't compete against great competition much.   He was a total project and the roster was awful anyway.   A HOF QB was not winning with Bears in MT rookie year.   

1) Bears roster is not awful in 2021, you can win with it.   2)  Fields is a more finished project.   You can absolutely compete with Fields in year one.  You should not waste a single year of a rookie QB contract if you don't have to.

You are wasting a year of Mack, Robinson, Roquan Smith, Jackson, Whitehair, et al.  That is not fair to them at all.     

This whole process is asinine because it ostensibly worked with Mahomes.   We don't know even know if it worked for best possible outcome.

Maybe KC has two or three titles now instead of one had they played him from jump.  And if Smith was not playing at a high level, if it was Dalton in his first year with KC instead of Smith in his 4th year or whatever you think Andy Reid doesn't start Mahomes?  Come on people!   There is no way.   Mahomes would be getting every rep after they saw OTAs.  

Nagy may as well wear a bracelet that says, WWCRD? (what would coach Reid do?), but he gets it wrong all the time.   No way Reid sits Mahomes for Dalton after seeing Mahomes sling lasers 60 yards in practice.    I bet he was contemplating benching Smith in year one even though they were winning.  
 

Fricken Dalton is taking Fields reps and majority of Bears fans agree with it.  Ugh.

Part of me wants Nagy to be fired for a poor year because Nagy has taken this lackadaisical, not hurried approach to 2021.

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, dll2000 said:

Part of me wants Nagy to be fired for a poor year because Nagy has taken this lackadaisical, not hurried approach to 2021.

Dalton's a good QB...the Bears can (and will) win with him. Fields may well overtake him and become the starter for Opening Day, but if not, will most likely be the guy at season's mid-point. 

Book it. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, dll2000 said:

Fricken Dalton is taking Fields reps and majority of Bears fans agree with it.  Ugh.

I don't know that a majority of us agree with it as much as many have simply settled in with the knowledge that Dalton will get the majority of the #1 reps in camps and will start the season as the #1.  We've been told this all along so why get an ulcer over it?  This is apparently a joint decision of Pace and Nagy and it's their butts on the line if they're wrong about it. 

We can't change this so for my part I'm gonna sit back hoping Dalton has a career year for himself and resurrects his career.

Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Heinz D. said:

Dalton's a good QB...the Bears can (and will) win with him. Fields may well overtake him and become the starter for Opening Day, but if not, will most likely be the guy at season's mid-point. 

Book it. 

It will be interesting to me to see what people say and observe their attitudes after Rams game.  

Offseason is nearly always full of trust and optimism.  Then you play the games.  

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought Brett Kollman's video breakdown of how and why the Bears offense struggled with Trubisky and Foles as QB was interesting and well done.

I would also agree with him that the skills Fields brings with him should "fix" those problems or many of them at any rate.

Now the questions is how much better at running this offense can Dalton be than either Trubisky or Foles and the answer to that should be a prime indicator of how soon we'll see Fields starting.  I happen to believe Dalton will play better than either Trubisky or Foles could but if he's lacking in any ability at all to provide at least some threat as a runner then the option game will suffer and with it the rest of the offense.  On this alone I'm not all that optimistic when it comes to Dalton.

Throughout camp as much as humanly possible Fields needs to be running a mirror image of what Dalton is running the only difference being whose running it with them.  Obviously Dalton will get the majority of reps with the 1st string but I also see no reason Fields cannot be running those same plays with the 2nd string with the only difference being gaining trust and timing with the starting receivers.  The rest should be identical.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...