Bears Insider

Packers loss may be beginning of end for Pace, Nagy

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If the Bears are looking for a new GM and coach in January, we'll look back on Sunday night's 41-25 loss as the catalyst for a Halas Hall housecleaning.

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There were two striking shots on the NBC broadcast of the Bears’ 41-25 Sunday night to the Green Bay Packers: First, of Virginia McCaskey in attendance at Lambeau Field; then, later in the first half, a shot of Ryan Pace shaking his head at yet another embarrassing showing by the team he built.

What we all watched Sunday, from Virginia McCaskey to Ryan Pace to Matt Nagy to fans at home, was the kind of game that might get everyone fired.

Personally, I’m still a little doubtful the Bears will clean house after this miserable season ends. I think it’s a little more likely George McCaskey and Ted Phillips give Pace and Nagy a playoff mandate in 2021.

But the flip side is this. The Bears need a new starting quarterback in 2021. Sunday’s debacle, with the daughter of George Halas in attendance, was a reminder of how badly Pace bungled his decision to trade up to draft Mitch Trubisky instead of Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson, the latter of whom will play at Soldier Field next month.

But Pace’s sub-optimal record with having “conviction,” a favorite word of his, on quarterbacks extends beyond Trubisky. He signed Mike Glennon. He kept Jay Cutler around a little too long. He, with blessing of Nagy, traded for Nick Foles and made sure Foles would be on the roster in 2021, hamstringing this franchise’s efforts to truly address the quarterback position next year.

But anyways, the point is: Why should the McCaskey family trust Pace to acquire the right quarterback next year? And if Pace goes, doesn’t that mean Nagy does, too?

These are the questions the McCaskey family (and team president Ted Phillips, who isn’t going anywhere, by the way) will need to answer in the coming weeks. And they’ll have to answer them while nursing the sting of a garbage time-aided 16-point loss in which their 100-year rivals laid bare for the nation to see the faults of their family’s team – the NFL’s charter franchise.

That probably doesn’t bode well for Pace and Nagy’s job security. But we’ll see where things stand a month from now when the Bears, gulp, play the Packers again to end this miserable 2020 season.

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“This is the Bears’ defense, basically, giving up here,” Tony Dungy said after Jamaal Williams’ 13-yard touchdown put Green Bay up 41-10 with about 16 minutes left in the game.

I’m not one to question players’ effort. They’re the ones putting their bodies on the line every week, I’m just the guy writing about it. I get it.

But if what we saw Sunday night wasn’t the Bears’ defense giving up, then what was it?

Is this defense actually worse than what we’ve seen over the first 10 games of the season? Did they finally crack under the weight of a bloated carcass of an offense? Should Akiem Hicks be the NFC Defensive Player of the Year?

It’d be easier to explain away a lack of effort here. Because a game like this should not happen, ever, to a defense as good as the one the Bears have, even with Akiem Hicks missing.

Matt LaFleur was one step ahead of Chuck Pagano. Aaron Rodgers hung out, unbothered, in the pocket and had an answer for everything the Bears did. Davante Adams had a laugh while matched up against Buster Skrine over and over. Aaron Jones cruised untouched across the line of scrimmage. It was a disaster.

And now, over the final five games of the season, the Bears’ defense suddenly has plenty to answer for – especially if these players are invested in not getting everyone fired, too.

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In some ways, Mitch Trubisky was better than Nick Foles. In other ways, he was much, much worse.

The Bears’ offense felt like it was in a better place because of the changes made to support Trubisky. They should’ve had a touchdown on their first drive, with Cole Kmet and Allen Robinson unable to come down with TD-caliber throws from Trubisky. The run game was better – if only they had an opportunity to actually use it.

But Trubisky still did what Trubisky does. He threw ill-advised deep balls into double or triple coverage. He was inaccurate on too many throws.

He was himself before the game, when he ripped off a passionate speech to his team, and during the game, when he ripped off a string of catastrophic mistakes.

Maybe Trubisky starts again next Sunday. Maybe Nagy goes back to Foles. More assuredly: It won’t matter.

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