Bears chairman George McCaskey addressed the firings at a press conference Monday afternoon. He said the search for a new general manager and head coach starts today.
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McCaskey said Ted Phillips, Bill Polian and others will assist in the search, but ultimately, he will make the hiring decision. The new general manager will lead football operations and report directly to McCaskey, he said. Phillips will focus on the team's purchase of the Arlington Park land.
"We're confident that with the experience we've gained, with the makeup of our search team, we will find a general manager and head coach who will lead us to the success that all Bears fans deserve," McCaskey said.
Nagy and Pace were fired after yet another disappointing season ended with a loss to the Minnesota Vikings Sunday. McCaskey said Nagy and Pace were notified of the decision Monday morning.
"We know how the season went this year. We know how it went toward the end of the year and of course today's game," Nagy said Sunday. "I've never been in this position and for me, I continue to just go about business like normal. I mean that. I have had conversations. Nothing has changed as I told you guys a few days ago. I know this, whatever is supposed to happen will happen."
Statement from Matt Nagy: pic.twitter.com/PeGZTPlnh2— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) January 10, 2022
"The McCaskey family is very proud, as it should be, and I think sometimes that pride might get in the way of their decision making," former Chicago Tribune sports columnist Fred Mitchell said.
The firing of Nagy and Pace was not unexpected, as the pair went four years without a playoff win. Despite some success in 2018, their performance in a win-now league was simply short of what is acceptable.
"They weren't good enough," ESPN Radio host and former Chicago Bear Tom Waddle said. "They didn't win enough games and the direction of this team was not headed where we all wanted it to go. Didn't develop the quarterback, the offense was consistently a bottom-third offense."
Now the McCaskey family says longtime team president Ted Phillips will play a role in finding replacements for Pace and Nagy, but the new regime will report directly to the grandson of team founder and papa bear George Halas.
Indeed, there are other family-owned teams in the league who have typically delegated football decisions to experienced football people. But George McCaskey clearly stated Monday that's not for him.
By the time they're ready to play football again, the new regime will be well in place hoping to bring new memories for long-suffering Bears fans. At this point, judging by the initial reaction, it's going to be a tall order.
The phones lines were hot on ESPN 1000's Kap and J Hood Show Monday morning after the news broke.
"Yeah it's the right choice," said J Hood. "I think that sometimes there's fatigue between coach and team. There's been a lot of fatigue between Nagy and the fan base."
Bears fans at the Palace Grill also digested the news.
"It's like the same game plan no matter whose the coach, no matter who is in charge they just go back to the same routine," said Bears fan Sam Roti. "They need to change their whole system."
Now the Bears will be looking for a replacement that can help quarterback Justin Fields reach his full potential.
One of the names floating out there is former Bears QB and now Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.
"The next coach, I'd love to see Jim Harbaugh," Roti said. "Love to see him. He's nuts but he reminds me of a Ditka. I think he'd be great for the team for the young players but they gotta let him control the team."
Nagy was hired by Pace in 2018 after serving as an offensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Bears would finish with a 12-4 record and an appearance in the playoffs in his first season as Nagy was named the AP NFL Coach of the Year.
But over the next three seasons, the Bears would only make the playoffs once and did not have a winning record.
Pace has been the Bears' general manager for six seasons, two more than Nagy has been head coach. The Bears made the playoffs twice during his tenure.
Notable moves by Pace include moving up in the draft to select quarterback Mitch Trubisky and Justin Fields as well as trading for linebacker Khalil Mack.
Prior to joining the Bears, Pace had served as director of player personnel for the New Orleans Saints.
FULL STATEMENT FROM RYAN PACE:
I want to thank the Bears organization, especially Mrs. Virginia McCaskey, George H. McCaskey and Ted Phillips, for the last seven years. This is a first-class organization and my family and I enjoyed our time in Chicago. Today's news is the tough part of our business but I am proud to have poured absolutely everything into making the Chicago Bears a better football team every single day since first stepping foot into Halas Hall. From the expansion of Halas Hall, to every staff hire, every roster move, every scouting trip, every draft pick was with a championship vision in mind.
To Matt Nagy and his family, thank you. Together the last four years we built a culture that persevered and a foundation that will catapult the organization into the next phase of success. Although we did not reach our ultimate goal, we accomplished a lot, most notably an NFC North title, two playoff berths, 19 Pro Bowlers and 6 All-Pro selections.
To the players, I appreciate everything that you gave out on the field. I believe in each and every one of you and I know the talent is there to bring a championship to Chicago.
To the entire football operations staff, I appreciate your dedication and tireless efforts during our time together. Your grind behind the scenes does not go unnoticed and the sacrifices are essential to the successes we have had together.
Bears fans, your passion is palpable daily. Through the wins and losses, it was our constant goal to deliver the championship you deserve. Thank you for making this city the best 'home field advantage' in the NFL.
Our family is from Illinois, went to college in Illinois and as Bears fans for life, we are proud to say that we are confident the future is bright for this team going forward.
FULL STATEMENT FROM MATT NAGY:
To the Chicago Bears organization - It was an honor to serve as your Head Coach over the past four seasons. I want to thank Ted Phillips, George H. McCaskey and Mrs. Virginia McCaskey for the opportunity to lead one of the game's most storied franchises. It's four years I'll always remember.
To Ryan Pace - Your passion and commitment towards this franchise was contagious. You gave it everything you had, every single day. It was always teamwork and togetherness with us. No regrets. Thank you.
To the Players, Coaches and Support Staff - Thank you for your hard work and daily dedication. I will forever be grateful for the fight and determination you showed each week. Every day I tried my very best to honor the commitment you showed to the game and the organization. We've all built great relationships that will last a lifetime. I was proud to be your coach and wish you nothing but success in the future.