While Bears fans are fed up with head coach Matt Nagy, the notion of pushing Bears GM Ryan Pace out of Chicago seems much less likely.
But a mailbag question posed to The Athletic’s Kevin Fishbain calls attention to another potential culprit for the Bears’ bungling of the franchise: Bears GM Ryan Pace.
“How can Bears management truly justify keeping Ryan Pace?” reader Annie P. posits. “Seven years, no playoff wins. He was ringmaster of the Nagy circus. Picked him to run the offense — last in the league.”
Fishbain concedes that while Bears fans likely have a consensus that Pace should get packing, Bears ownership will likely ride out the Pace ship for a few more seasons.
The crux of the issue, according to Fishbain, comes down to this: “does the ‘good’ (strong drafting in the middle to late rounds, a solid young core, the decision to take Fields, if he is the ‘guy,’ the Halas Hall renovation) outweigh the fact that the Bears have zero playoff wins in Pace’s seven seasons as general manager.”
In an organization that values stability, it seems that sources outside Halas Hall offer the impression that Pace’s position is secure. While firing a coach mid-season happens ever year, the decision to sack a GM is often much more complicated.
Bears GM Ryan Pace likely to weather the storm in Chicago
While head coaching decisions can be sourced back to one person (Matt Nagy), the success and failures of managing the Bears as a franchise does not fall entirely on Pace.
For example, Pace drafted Justin Fields, but Nagy’s decisions at head coach have limited Fields’ minutes as well as what plays he can run. Even if Pace did his due diligence selecting solid players and negotiating for Khalil Mack, how Bears coaches mishandle their position is on them. The counterpoint here is that Pace is the one who hires and fires coaches, so in a way, all of Nagy’s decisions could be reduced to Pace’s misstep in hiring Nagy in the first place.
In a league where managerial turnover is fairly common, struggling franchises like the Bears are caught in a vicious cycle: coaches are hired, the organization remains dysfunctional, and the coaches are out in a year or two while the entire team transitions to someone else’s new system. The Browns have been a case study in how turnover can destroy a team, but they are now a shining example of what one good GM in Andrew Berry and the right head coach in Kevin Stefanski can accomplish.
Coaches aside, it seems that Pace overall has been unable to fundamentally transform the franchise into a playoff-contending team. Sure, the Bears made the playoffs in 2018 and 2020, but remaining unable to move forward is representative of the franchise’s inability to string together a solid winning team.
Does Nagy deserve blame for how the Bears are doing? Absolutely. But a general manager whose organization is as flawed as it was seven years ago deserves further scrutiny, too.