Why George McCaskey fired Matt Nagy, Ryan Pace


On Monday afternoon, Bears chairman George McCaskey sat down with reporters for a nearly hour-long press conference. It’s been nearly a year since we heard from McCaskey, so topics ranging from upcoming plans regarding Arlington Park, to Justin Fields’ future. Of course, McCaskey explained why he ultimately made the decision to fire both head coach Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace.

In brief, the decision came down to wins and losses. But there was a little more to it than that.

“Over four seasons, we beat the teams we were expected to beat,” McCaskey said. “Too often, though, we didn’t beat the better teams and you have to do that to excel in this league.”

Throughout Matt Nagy’s tenure, from 2018 through 2021, the Bears went 25-11 against teams that finished with a .500 record or worse. But against teams that finished with a record above .500, they went 9-20. Looking at that, it’s no surprise the team went 0-2 in the playoffs too.

And so, at some point during this most recent season, McCaskey began the process of evaluating whether or not the team should retain, or replace, Nagy and Pace. McCaskey couldn’t recall exactly when that process began, but he said the evaluation took into account each person’s entire body of work, and it wasn’t finished until Sunday night, after the team’s Week 18 game against the Vikings.

While McCaskey said his evaluation focused on their careers as a whole, he did offer two specific examples of why he decided to replace Nagy and Pace, instead of retaining them.

“If I could point to particular momentsー and this wasn’t so much the evaluations of Ryan and Matt themselves, but just where we were and areー on the offensive side, I would say in the same calendar year, we twice scored the only touchdown of the game on literally the last play of the game. On the defensive side of the ball, I would point to this season, Game 1, one of our defenders fails to touch down a receiver who’s on the ground. And in Game 17, one of our defenders fails to touch down a receiver who’s on the ground.”

The two offensive games McCaskey mentioned seemingly refer to Week 15’s Monday Night Football loss to the Vikings, and the Wild Card loss to the Saints at the end of the 2020 season.

But that’s neither here nor there. What matters is that the offensive factor and defensive factor each demonstrated a lack of growth. One from a performance standpoint, and one from a teaching standpoint. Performance and teaching, two things that are pivotal to the success of any leader. Two things that undid this regime in the end.

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