January 15, 2021


Bears will keep GM Ryan Pace, head coach Matt Nagy, per sources

Top Bears decision makers will return for 2021 season

The Bears intend to keep both general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy heading into the 2021 season.

The Bears have not confirmed the decision, but multiple sources are telling Shaw Local News Network’s Hub Arkush that both Pace and Nagy will return.

Despite a tumultuous 2020 season that included a six-game losing streak, a benching of the starting quarterback, an 8-8 finish, and a Wild Card playoff berth, the Bears are keeping their top two football decision-makers on board.

Pace has been the Bears general manager since January of 2015. Nagy just completed his third season as head coach, and sports a 28-20 regular season record and two playoff appearances in three years.

[Read more: Report: Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano to retire]

There was some speculation among fans and the media that Pace or Nagy might be gone after this season. The Bears started the year off with a promising 5-1 record through the first six weeks. Then the losses snowballed to six consecutive, dropping the Bears to 5-7 following a heartbreaking loss to the Detroit Lions on Dec. 6 – during which the Bears blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead.

Somehow, Nagy and Pace steered the Bears to three consecutive wins to finish 8-8 and reach the postseason with a wild card berth.

Pace and Nagy earned much of the credit two years ago when the Bears won the NFC North division with a 12-4 record in 2018. Nagy earned NFL coach of the year honors, while Pace won executive of the year honors that season. Things quickly soured, though, with a disappointing 8-8 finish in 2019, missing the postseason, and an identical finish in 2020, albeit with a playoff appearance as the No. 7 seed in the NFC.

[Read more: Allen Robinson: Bears had a year to get a contract extension done]

Pace’s fingerprints are all over this iteration of the Bears. Since taking over in 2015, he built the Bears defense into a powerhouse by 2018. He drafted defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, safety Eddie Jackson and linebacker Roquan Smith. He traded for outside linebacker Khalil Mack.

But he also drafted quarterback Mitch Trubisky in 2017 when he had the chance to take future NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson. He missed on other draft picks too – tight end Adam Shaheen in the second round, receiver Kevin White in the first round – and largely ignored the offensive line until the late rounds.

No general manager is going to hit on every draft pick. But it seems that Bears chairman George McCaskey likes enough of what Pace has done with the team to earn him at least one more season.

Pace steered the organization through an unprecedented season threatened constantly by the COVID-19 pandemic. He took the Bears from a 5-11 team in 2014, the season before he took over, and built a 12-4 division champion. But he has also overseen the slide into 8-8 purgatory.

[Read more: Bears offense sputters, season ends in familiar fashion. So what happens next?]

McCaskey appears to be giving Pace at least one more chance to build back out of that purgatory.

And that includes keeping Pace’s prized coaching hire Matt Nagy. There have been plenty of ups and downs since the Bears hired Nagy three years ago. The fact is, players seem to like him. Receiver Allen Robinson again on Monday reiterated that Nagy was a big reason why he came to Chicago.

In giving up play calling duties this season and adjusting the scheme to fit Trubisky’s skills, Nagy showed a willingness to adapt to the situation.

And while that was enough to reach the postseason, Pace and Nagy must now figure out how to build on that success. Postseason appearances are great, but Bears fans want to see their team play into the second and third weeks of the playoffs.

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for Shaw Media. He also contributes to high school football coverage at Friday Night Drive. Sean has covered various sports at the amateur, college and professional levels since 2012. He joined Shaw Media in 2016.