The day after the Bears’ season ended came and went with no news from Halas Hall – well, except the signing of 10 practice squad players to reserve/futures contracts.
So the questions still lingered into Tuesday morning: Will Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy be fired? Will Ted Phillips retire, be fired, be re-assigned or remain as team president? What, exactly, is George McCaskey thinking about the direction of his family's franchise, one that’s now gone a decade without a postseason victory?
We’ll find out soon enough, I think. But how soon is hard to nail down.
But if McCaskey decides a significant organizational overhaul is necessary, he’s running out of time to get the best people to fix what should be one of the NFL's most successful teams - but has been mostly irrelevant for far too many years.
It’s understandable that McCaskey would be deliberate, calculated and patient with his postseason evaluation of Pace, Nagy and Phillips – three people he holds in high regard personally. Firing any or all of them would not be an easy decision, or one he’d take lightly.
This is not like jettisoning Phil Emery and Marc Trestman or John Fox when it was clear the eject button had to be hit on those top-level figures. The Bears still made the playoffs in two of the last three seasons and Nagy, specifically, still has two years left on his contract (it’s why, of those three, his job feels the most secure).
But McCaskey cannot afford to wait much longer, specifically when it comes to Pace and Nagy.
There are currently five general manager openings around the NFL – and the Lions, Broncos, Jaguars, Panthers and Falcons are already deep into interviews with prospective candidates (Washington may hire a GM, too, bringing the potential total to six). Second interviews for head coach openings are beginning this week, with the Lions, Jaguars, Falcons, Jets, Texans, Chargers and now Eagles flooding the market.
While the Bears surely have background research on prospective candidates, they haven’t conducted any formal interviews yet – you know, because everyone still has a job, as of this writing.
What if the Bears conduct a first interview over Zoom with, say, ESPN’s Louis Riddick and decide, wow, we love this guy and we want to bring him in for an in-person second interview – but Riddick, who’s already interviews with the Lions and Jaguars, accepts one of those jobs before he can even get to Chicago?
Maybe this is going too far down a rabbit hole of negative outcomes. But if you’re making major changes to a broken organization, you can't afford to risk losing out on the best football minds because you started your search too late.
There’s less urgency for anything to occur with Phillips, since hiring a team president or director of football operations would draw from a different pool of candidates. And any move with Phillips, either on his own volition or forced by McCaskey, would certainly be the most difficult for ownership. Phillips is a member of the Bears’ board of directors and is the only team president in franchise history to not be related to George Halas. He and the McCaskey family are extremely close.
For now, we’ll keep awaiting word from McCaskey – or from the Bears’ PR staff announcing an end-of-the-year press conference. Maybe it’ll be with Nagy, Pace, Phillips and McCaskey. Maybe it’ll be with Nagy and McCaskey. Maybe it’ll be with just McCaskey.
But whatever direction the Bears take, they need to take it soon.