Are Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace on the hot-seat heading into their Monday Night matchup against the Vikings? Maybe not yet, but if things keep going poorly, Pro Football Talk’s Chris Simms thinks all eyes will be on them.
“I think everyone is looking to Chicago going, ‘I wonder how this is going to play out towards the end of the year,” Simms told NBC Sports Chicago. “And yeah, Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace are under that microscope of, ‘How is Chicago going to finish off?’”
With a clear talent disparity on the offensive side of the ball, and complete lack of rhythm on offense it seems Pace and Nagy could share the blame for the Bears’ lack of success. But Simms does lay a bit more blame on one of the two.
“There are issues with the roster at offensive line and running back, but after that I think the roster is pretty good,” Simms said. “I look at the bigger issue being the coaching, more than anything, on the offensive side of the ball. You can’t say anything about the defense. The talent’s awesome. Chuck Pagano, awesome. Offense, yeah it’s a little bit of a Nagy/Pace combination there, where yeah the scheme stinks, they’re not coached well, they’re not disciplined, there’s no physicality… There’s so many times when I watch the Bears that they’re barely getting lined up to snap the ball in time. Everyone’s just gotten set right before they say, ‘Set, hut.’ They’re all over the place.
“But at the same time I go to Ryan Pace and say, the offensive line’s not good and you’ve got one of the poorer offensive lines in all of football. How are you going to be able to establish a run game with that formula?”
Heading into the season, the Bears didn’t make many significant changes to their talent on the offensive line. They parted ways with Kyle Long and brought in Germain Ifedi. The biggest move was firing o-line coach Harry Hiestand to bring in Juan Castillo. Castillo was charged with getting the run game back on track. But it hasn’t worked so far.
But Simms argues that it’s impossible to build a perfect roster. Every team has holes and needs to pick where they invest. He posits that Pace may have invested more on the defensive side, precisely because he had Nagy in charge.
“Probably going into his thinking was, ‘I might be able to get away with a little less on the offensive side of the ball, because I’m bringing this offensive mind in, in Matt Nagy. He’ll figure out a way to hide those deficiencies.’ But you’ve got to be able to spread the wealth out.”
The Bears currently rank second to last in the NFL in both yards/carry (3.7) and rushing attempts/game (22.2). If a team can’t run the ball, then that’s going to put more stress on their passing game. Unfortunately for the Bears that feeds right into their biggest issue. Their eternal issue: bad quarterback play.
So who do you blame for that?
“That’s always going to be on Pace, and then even into Nagy a little bit,” Simms said. “Just how that started off with Trubisky, and not supporting him the right way. Nagy came in and helped him out a little, but not a lot to where he really improved him. And let’s be serious: does Nick Foles look any different from Mitchell Trubisky at this point? No. It’s the same crap. Maybe Mitch wasn’t as bad as we all wanted to say he was.
“There’s both blame to go around, but I do blame Nagy just a hair more than I do Pace.”