Like many of you around the web, I was completely disappointed in the Chicago Bears’ performance this past 2020 regular and post-season. My expectations are always high, if not sometimes too high, in comparison to the “average joe.” Since 2010 I have (almost) always been known as Optimist Prime - that one dude with the impossibly long name who never sees any reason to doubt what the Chicago Bears are doing.
Today, is not that day.
Lester and the gang recently got together for a round table on what their thoughts were on the latest virtual presser from the powers-at-be. You can see their thoughts here in this link. My thoughts....well, you are about to see how much thought I’ve put into this mess.
Where is the Freakin’ Accountability???
Let me be crystal clear in this. Yesterday’s presser was nothing short of a bad sales pitch by a management team who’s out of touch with what’s really going on. You can sell to me the idea of mental toughness in a six-game losing streak, and I’ll shoot back with, “why did that losing streak happen to begin with?” You can try to put all the blame on the QB position, and I’ll chirp, “what about the effort by the rest of the team? This is a team sport, correct?”
This idea being sold, where Ted Phillips isn’t involved in football decisions, is hogwash. If Ted isn’t involved with football operations, then why is he Ryan Pace’s boss? Why is he the one person you consult when it comes time to discuss the futures of the GM and the head coach? Why can’t you remove him from that brain trust? Oh, because he’s the Team President, who’s also Ryan Pace’s boss. So....he actually is involved in football operations.
I’ve heard so many stories about how much George McCaskey hates losing to the Green Bay Packers. Ask yourself this question, George. If the roles were reversed this season, what would Green Bay do? The last time they had a losing season, everybody got cleaned out. Ted Thompson, the GM, was figuratively put in the corner. They actually did something to fix themselves.
Meanwhile, where you’ve fired and hired several GMs along with coaching staffs, there’s one person you haven’t fired - Ted Phillips. What has he done in the twenty-one years he’s served as Team President and CEO which warrants an infinite amount of chances? I’ll answer that question - not a damned thing. If you can’t make tough decisions, then remove yourself from the position entirely. Of course that won’t happen, we all know that.
So it’s all on the QB....and your GM can’t even find said QB
I actually lost count on how many times all four participants — Matt Nagy, Ryan Pace, Ted Phillips, George McCaskey — took shots at the QB position and said they didn’t get good enough results. It’s great to see you all seem to be stuck on the same piece of fly paper together. But here’s another question - who’s the guy who brought in these QBs?
Oh, yeah, your current GM in Ryan Pace.
Specifically, Mitchell Trubisky was the crowned jewel of his 2017 masterplan. Years later, Nick Foles became the designated savior of the franchise when traded in 2020. Except...Foles played so poorly that Trubisky replaced him out-right and did just enough to help get the Bears into the final wildcard spot. Of which they were mauled by the New Orleans Saints, Pace’s former employers.
Let us not forget that Ryan Pace was brought in during the 2015 offseason to replace Phil Emery. He inherited one punky QB named Jay Cutler. Later, he brought in Brian Hoyer, and created a controversy in 2016 when Hoyer had himself a decent streak. On cue, Hoyer was lost for the season with an injury, and then Jay Cutler returned to the saddle one last time. Cutler was cut in 2017, replaced by Mike Glennon — seriously, to this day....why? — who then was replaced by....Trubisky.
Pace can’t even replace Jay Cutler. Why has he earned another shot at the QB position? Or, is it “one last shot?” Ryan mentioned several times yesterday that he’s “learning from his mistakes.” Without ever publicly acknowledging what those mistakes — cough cough Glennon Trubisky Foles Lack-O-Draft-Picks-at-QB cough cough — were to begin with. If you’re afraid to say what your mistakes were, you haven’t learned to begin with.
I expect Ryan Pace to enter the offseason hellbent on finding “his next guy” at QB. I even expect a gigantic move, whether it’s a signing in free agency or a trade of some sort. Yet, will it be the right move? History suggests for us to be bracing ourselves for the...unexpected. After all, former Bears GM Jerry Angelo once famously said, “It’s all about the quarterback.”
Almost in a total echo, Ryan Pace said yesterday, “It’s all about fixing the QB issue.” The two statements by these GMs were said twelve years apart from one another. For what it’s worth, Jerry Angelo traded for disgruntled Broncos QB Jay Cutler in April of 2009.
Will it be the dream with Deshaun Watson? Will it be Derek Carr? Will it be Dak Prescott? Will it be Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, or another talented rookie in the draft? Or, will it be none of those things? Desperate GMs will make desperate decisions, and if I had to take a guess, Ryan Pace is betting on seven other teams being desperate enough to make bad decisions as well. A QB derby like we’ve never seen before shall take place in 2021.
And we all should blindly trust this guy to develop said QB(s)???
I get it. Matt Nagy is currently off to one of the best three-year starts of any coach in Bears history. He’s 28-20, including 12-4 in his debut (2018) and a combined 16-16 the rest of the way. He’s also 0-2 in the playoffs.
Well...no offense, Nagy. But, just where is this high-powered offense we were promised upon your arrival? For most of the time it hasn’t even been good or balanced. Not until personal egos and preferences were set aside to allow the players’ true strengths to develop. I will give all the praise in the world to Matt Nagy for being human and accepting the need to change this past season.
However, I will also hold him accountable for his mistakes.
Trubisky’s performance during the first three games of 2020, and really all of 2019, warranted a seat on the bench in week three at Atlanta. Nick Foles Mania ensued when he came off the bench to score three touchdowns in the 4th quarter. Later, Foles led the Bears to a win against the Tompa- oh, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
That all vanished quickly once teams realized the vanilla concepts Nagy utilized with a concrete statue standing in the pocket. Defensive coordinators just busted out their best sledgehammers available, and went to town on the Foles-led/Nagy-coached offense. Finally, Matt Nagy turned play-calling responsibilities to Bill Lazor — the Bears’ current offensive coordinator — and eventually went back to Mitchell Trubisky.
A three-game winning streak started late in the year where Chicago’s offense scored over 30 points a game. This was achieved by realizing David Montgomery is your identity on offense. You feed him the ball, channel your receiving game into Allen Robinson, and use your athletic QB while you still got him.
Now, a breakup between Matt Nagy and Mitchell Trubisky; if not Matt Nagy, Mitchell Trubisky, and Nick Foles, seems inevitable. QBs rarely return the following season once they’re benched, and both players...got benched. It’s obvious the QB for the 2021 season in Chicago isn’t on the roster, not yet at least.
For as badly as how the decision-making has been at QB, one could argue the coaching has been just as bad. Poor eye discipline, lack of pocket presence, and between-game consistency have plagued Chicago. Just what has been the plan this entire time? Where has the coordination and adjustments been? Where is the trust? I don’t see any of that going on between Chicago’s QB staffing entourage and their players.
I just realized I mentioned the word “discipline” in the previous paragraph....where the hell was that this season? Granted, to finish the season, the Bears did drop significantly in penalties and penalty yards per game.
Still, they finished the year towards the very top, and had multiple players ejected for childish behavior (fighting) this season. Both of them were young receivers, Anthony Miller and Javon Wims to be exact. And they even threw punches at the same damn parrot — Chauncey-Gardner — in both games against the Saints! A freakin’ playoff game!
It has been revealed that both Wims and Miller were told NOT to give into the squawking by the Saints’ secondary. It’s a sign of willful disobedience. That’s completely unacceptable. You cannot justify, let alone defend their behavior or lack of self control at all. As much as I want to blame their position coach, Mike Furray, it’s unfair to blame him completely. Rather, the head coach should have actually done something about this. I already put up with enough of this type of nonsense and stupidity from being a Florida Gators fan, for cripes sake.
Back to the QB situation...it’s never just on the GM. It’s on the coaching staff as well. The coaching has to get better. And Nagy should own that.
What happens now?
So far, the only actual change — which is still significant if you ask me — will come on the defensive side of the ball. Chuck Pagano, as Matt Nagy confirmed yesterday, is retiring from the NFL. A new DC will be in charge next year.
And, really, change needed to happen on defense anyhow. The decline has been sharp and disturbing since 2019. Opponents have cracked the code on the Bears’ current scheme. New ideas, and possibly new blood, need to be added. Fortunately most of the work is already done. I’d say, at least when looking back on the other side of the ball, it’s a simple fix.
I can dog on the players’ effort as much as the next fan, writer, blogger, etc. And I have seriously questioned that effort from time to time. Here’s the reality: it’s not on the players where the fault should be placed. It’s well above them.
The players deserve better. The city of Chicago deserves better. This fanbase, by far and large, deserves MUCH better than this. I scoff at the thought Ted Phillips thinks he has an idea how the fanbase feels. I openly challenge him and George McCaskey to read this article, and then ask themselves that question again. Do they really know what they’re talking about to begin with?
I doubt very strongly that Ted Phillips will ever understand how this fanbase feels. However, I will always be a fan of this franchise. I’ll, still, cheer for the laundry. I’ll, still, expect a better season in 2021. Otherwise, people will get fired, one way or another. That’s just the reality of the situation.
As sure as God made green apples, the Bears will be considerably better one day. The Bears will have some sense of accountability at the top. The question, until further notice, is when?