Bears had already backed themsleves into a corner

  • Were the Bears correct in keeping head coach Matt Nagy? No doubt about it, says columnist Mike McGraw.

    Were the Bears correct in keeping head coach Matt Nagy? No doubt about it, says columnist Mike McGraw. ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky hasn't been great, but the team has greater needs this offseason.

    Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky hasn't been great, but the team has greater needs this offseason. ASSOCIATED PRESS

Updated 1/13/2021 1:53 PM

The Bears had some questions heading into the offseason and decided the answers were already in place. This should have been no surprise, since the franchise's history of incompetence had them backed into a corner.

Let's examine the main questions one by one:


Should head coach Matt Nagy have been fired?

Absolutely not. He's taken the Bears to the playoffs twice in three years, which means he's been to the postseason the same number of times as Dave Wannstedt, Dick Jauron, Marc Trestman and John Fox combined.

He's arguably the fourth-best coach in franchise history. Don't even try to argue he's not good enough because the Bears are 0-2 in playoff games under his watch.

If there's an area where Nagy's been lacking, it's close games. All three of his seasons have featured two or three games the Bears should have won but didn't. They could have easily been a top-two seed in 2018 with one more victory, and there was no excuse for losing to the Vikings and Lions at home this fall. His overall record in games decided by 7 points or less is 18-12, so that's not terrible.

And had the Bears decided to outthink themselves and change coaches, the next step would have been treacherous. Whichever McCaskey family member is in charge of hiring the next coach is probably going to get it wrong.

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Chicago sports history is pretty consistent with this rule: Firing a successful coach will lead to long-term regret.

Should GM Ryan Pace have been fired?

He's had some big whiffs, no doubt. Mitch Trubisky, Kevin White, Adam Shaheen for starters. The list of players chosen in the second, third and fourth rounds of the draft who didn't pan out are too numerous to mention. The list of guys chosen in the fifth round and below who turned into contributors is small.

The decision to spend big on outside linebacker Robert Quinn didn't turn out great. The Bears got to the playoffs and had no capable backup for Roquan Smith or Jaylon Johnson.

At the same time, Pace obviously deserves credit for the 12-4 record in 2018 and the two trips to the playoffs. He was on the job when Nagy was hired.

The reality of this decision is hiring a new general manager while retaining an old coach is usually a bad mix. The Bears have tried that a few times.

With a full slate of draft picks available for the first time in a few years, the most realistic option was giving Pace another chance to learn from past mistakes.


Should Mitch Trubisky be the QB in 2021?

This answer is relatively simple. Sure, the Bears could go all-in on a quest to find a better quarterback. But that would likely mean spending their first-round pick on a new signalcaller or sending out more draft picks to either trade up in the draft or bring in a veteran.

The Trubisky pick haunts the Bears not only because they took the wrong guy, but they also gave away three high picks to needlessly move up one spot in the draft to grab him before an imaginary competitor beat them to it. If anyone needs a reminder, one of those traded draft picks was used on Saints running back Alvin Kamara.

The Bears need a restock. There's a direct correlation between the picks given away for Trubisky, the two departed first-rounders from the Khalil Mack deal, and the many holes in the Bears lineup.

The best chance for the Bears to take a step forward in 2021 is to use their draft picks to get help for the offensive line, a dynamic wide receiver and reinforcements for every defensive position.

Trubisky isn't great, but he's proven he can win games with a good team around him. Assuming they can re-sign him to a reasonable contract, the optimal scenario might be status quo at QB with Mitch and Nick Foles.

Here's a tip for Nagy: Next time he brings in Foles to salvage a game, make a few George Blanda references in the postgame news conference. Foles is a better super-sub than long-term solution.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls


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