The Bears fire Nagy, GM Pace after the 6-11 season

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The Chicago Bears fired coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace on Monday after the team finished with a 6-11 record this season.

Nagy was named NFL Coach of the Year after his first season in 2018 when he led the Bears to a 12-4 record and they reached the playoffs for the first time in eight years. He was praised that season for his offensive wrinkles and humble minds, but the Bears could not sustain that success for the next three seasons.

They finished 8-8 in 2019 and then again in 2020 when the league’s expanded playoff field put them in the wildcard round. Nagy was never able to duplicate his first season, in part because the quarterback he inherited – Mitchell Trubisky, No. 2 in the 2017 draft – never made the necessary improvement.

Trubisky traveled through free agency last spring after the Bears switched up to draft quarterback Justin Fields. The Bears were 2-8 in Fields’ 10 starts and he finished the season on the final rankings in the league in Total QBR (26.0). In four seasons, the Bears had 34-31 under Nagy in the base game and 0-2 in the playoffs.

Monday’s news has been on the rise since the end of November, when a local report came in that Nagy would be fired after the Bears’ Thanksgiving Day match at the Detroit Lions. Nagy said at the time that he was unaware of his impending firing, but no member of the Bears’ front office or ownership immediately stepped forward to publicly reject the report.

A day later, owner George McCaskey told the players during a team meeting that Nagy would not be fired after the match. The Bears beat the Lions 16-14, but it was their only win in the middle of a 1-8 streak that ran from Week 6 to Week 15.

In a statement issued Monday night, Nagy said “it was an honor to serve” as the Bears’ head coach, thanking the team’s ownership, Pace and his players, coaches and support staff.

Pace also issued a statement Monday night, also thanking the team’s ownership, Nagy, the team’s players, the football operations staff and the Bears fans.

“Bears fans, your passion is to take and feel on a daily basis. Through wins and losses, it was our constant goal to deliver the championship you deserve. Thank you for making this city the best ‘home court advantage’ in the NFL,” said Pace. in his announcement. “Our family is from Illinois, went to college in Illinois, and as Bears fans for life, we are proud to say we are confident the future is bright for this team going forward.”

With the help of former NFL Director Bill Polian, who heads their search committee, the Bears will throw a wide net after a new GM and head coach. McCaskey indicated that it is possible that the team could even hire a coach before GM.

“With Bill’s guidance, we’ll be able to find a partnership between GM and coach that will work,” McCaskey said. “We prefer to hire GM first.”

A team high on the Bears’ radar for this search appears to be the Buffalo Bills. Chicago is interested in talking to Buffalo defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and has asked for permission to interview him, a source told ESPN’s Dan Graziano. Later Monday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Chicago has also requested permission to interview Bill’s offensive coordinator Brian Daboll for the open position. The Bills won the AFC East this season and will take on the New England Patriots in the wildcard round of the playoffs Saturday night.

Under a renewed structure, the new GM will report directly to ownership and bypass team president Ted Phillips, who will spend his time working on the potential of the Bears in building a new stadium in the suburb of Arlington Heights. Phillips will still be part of the search committee. McCaskey rejected the idea of ​​needing a president for football operations between ownership and GM.

“In our structure, it is the GM that has the ultimate football authority and overview of the entire football operation,” he said. “Different structures work for different teams in different sports. We think this is the structure that will work best for us.”

McCaskey was asked if the team will consult with Fields in its decision-making process. Under several different head coaches over the past decade, the Bears have struggled to score points.

“Justin will not be an active part of the search process, but we will be very interested in hearing from both general manager and head-coach candidates what their plan is to get the most out of the quarterback position for us,” McCaskey replied .

Nagy, 43, joined the Bears after eight years working for longtime head coach Andy Reid, including five with the Kansas City Chiefs and three more with the Philadelphia Eagles. Reid promoted him to offensive coordinator in 2017, a year before the Bears hired him.

Pace spent seven seasons with the Bears, hiring two coaches and swapping up to two quarterbacks during his tenure. His team played two playoff appearances but did not win a postseason match. The Bears last won a playoff game in 2010 and are 1-3 in the postseason since appearing in the Super Bowl XLI after the 2007 season.

“They took a chance on me,” said David Montgomery, who is running back from the Bears. “They took a chance on a poor Cincinnati kid who people watched as if he would not be good enough to get a chance to play at all. That’s why it’s emotional for me. Because they stuck their necks out on the line. for me. And I appreciate them for that. Just sitting and waiting to see what happens next. “

Nagy was the second coach Pace hired. Predecessor John Fox spent three seasons with the team as it switched away from quarterback Jay Cutler. Pace proved to be an aggressive trader, acquiring pass-rusher Khalil Mack in 2018 in addition to making deals to draft Trubisky and Fields.

But those deals continued to tend to abandon first-round picks that had begun with the Bears’ deal to acquire Cutler in 2009. The organization swapped its first-round picks away in 2009, 2010, 2019 and 2020 and does not have a for 2022, either. Of the four first-round picks Pace made during his tenure – receiver Kevin White (2015), linebacker Leonard Floyd (2016), Trubisky, linebacker Roquan Smith (2018) and Fields – only Smith has proven a long-term answer.

Pace had some success in free agency, where he hit receiver Allen Robinson II and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, among others, and he also drew the impressive receiver Darnell Mooney. But that wasn’t enough to make the Bears ’annual playoff challenger.

ESPN staff writer Jesse Rogers contributed to this report.

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