The Bears have never fired a head coach in the middle of a season in their 101-year history. But…
“I react like a fan,” Bears chairman George McCaskey said on New Year’s Eve 2019. “That’s no way to run a football team.”
What if it actually is the right way to run a football team now?
There aren’t many – if any – defenders of Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace left among Bears fans. Most of you reading this article have probably made up your mind that everyone needs to be fired.
So if George McCaskey fashions himself a fan, wouldn’t he feel the same way so many – if not all – Bears fans do right now?
And if, in the wake of a series of embarrassing losses for his family’s franchise, he’s already decided to fire Nagy and Pace: Why wait?
Why allow precedent to delay your search for the next group of people who you hope will finally earn the NFL’s charter franchise its second Super Bowl trophy? Especially when there will be stiff competition for the best football minds out there?
There are already four general manager openings around the NFL – the Texans, Jaguars, Lions and Falcons. There will be a highly sought-after coaching opening with the New York Jets. Maybe there will be a housecleaning with the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Los Angeles Chargers may move on from coach Anthony Lynn, too.
If you’re ranking the potential coach or GM openings based on the resources available, the Bears are not near the top of the list. The Bears, the NFL's charter franchise, is more defined in 2020 by bad contracts, little cap space and no quarterback than it is its rich history.
You’d rather take over the Jaguars or Jets, with their top-two picks and oceans of cap space. You’d rather take over the Texans to build around Deshaun Watson. You’d rather take over the Chargers to build around Justin Herbert.
The Bears? Who or what can the Bears build around? An aging defense that got torched for 402 yards by Matthew Stafford, who didn’t even have his No. 1 wide receiver (Kenny Golladay) on Sunday?
Who would want to take over this mess?
The Bears’ romantic history doesn’t matter much when the GM and coach McCaskey – and maybe still team president Ted Phillips – would hire will be the franchise’s fourth, each, in the last decade. Black-and-white photos of Red Grange and Sid Luckman or grainy videos of Gale Sayers and Walter Payton aren’t earning you job security or getting Robert Quinn’s contract off the books.
To hire the best football mind(s) possible, and keep them from what are better jobs, the Bears need to start the search as soon as ownership decides to fire Pace and Nagy. Maybe make some promises about job security or monetary resources (which, by the way, have not been the problem in the Pace-Nagy era) that other organizations with more promising futures won't.
So if McCaskey, the fan, has decided – like the rest of the fanbase – that both need to go, he shouldn’t wait. There’s no reason to not act now, then, other than precedent. It's how Marc Trestman, Phil Emery and John Fox kept their jobs through the ends of the 2014 and 2017 seasons when it was clear for weeks they’d be fired.
The Bears’ don’t just have a precedent of not firing coaches in the middle of a season, though.
They have a precedent of mediocrity.
Maybe if they break with the first precedent, they’ll break with the second one, too.