Why George and Ted Decided to Do Nothing

Bears ownership opted to maintain status quo and owner George McCaskey appreciated the collaboration between coach Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace, as well as their plan for the future
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Chicago Bears board chairman George McCaskey and team president Ted Phillips expressed supreme confidence in general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy to turn around a disappointing 2020 performance.

The limits of said confidence seem to run only into next season.

"The records from 2019 and 2020 are identical," McCaskey said. "So the sad fact is we are closer to the 2019 team than the 2018 team.

"So what we have to do in our postseason evaluation is identify what areas of strength we have and what areas of weakness we have and work on the weaknesses to make the Bears better."

However, nothing specific was said about what needs to be achieved.

"Neither Ryan or Matt received a contract extension," McCaskey said. "As far as what we need to see, we need to see progress. It's not a certain number of wins.

"We don't know what's going to happen in the 2021 season. We just had an unprecedented (pandemic) event during the 2020 season, so we don't know what injuries are going to occur, what other challenges are going to arise, but we've got to see progress."

An 85-minute press conference was basically held so the Bears in charge could explain why they were taking no action.

"We're not satisfied with where we are now but we think both Ryan and Matt are the people best able to lead us to success," McCaskey said.

The rambling press conference at least confirmed by both McCaskey and Phillips that the way the team rebounded from six straight losses to earn a spot in the playoffs carried some weight.

"Many teams, when you lose six games in a row, will fall and they will finger point as George pointed out," Phillips said. "And they won’t recover from that. We did.

"Did we do well in the playoffs? No. We haven't won any playoff games in Ryan and Matt's tenure. That's not good enough. But we do think the foundation is in place, and they're both solution oriented and we're expecting improvement this year."

The term collaboration kept popping up as one of the reasons McCaskey and Phillips have confidence in Pace and Nagy to both win more games and to get the perpetual quarterback problem turned around.

Nagy and Pace met with McCaskey and Phillips and gave a convincing explanation of where things stood and how they thought they could get the franchise to more than a .500 season.

"Part of it was their thoroughness," McCaskey said. "Part of it was how well they communicate. Part of it was their candor in assessing their own performance and Ryan's evaluation of Matt as the head coach since the head coach reports to the general manager in our structure.

"It just gave us confidence that retaining the continuity and sticking with these guys is the best route for the Bears at this time."

McCaskey also made it clear one major factor taken into account was the pandemic and how both Nagy and Pace handled the challenge for the team.

"I don't know about percentages, but the pandemic and our response to it was a big part of it," McCaskey said. "You want people who can handle adversity. You want people who are adaptable, and both Ryan and Matt displayed those qualities.

"The pandemic affected different teams in different ways, but I thought the way we handled it, our response to it, our communication, our flexibility, our adaptability were really reflections of the leadership of Matt and Ryan."

McCaskey said contract extensions for Nagy and Pace are "...mostly in Ted's hands, but we haven't really gotten through that."

Phillips bristled at a request for information about when the contracts expire for both Pace and Nagy, although it has been broadly reported Pace's deal expires after 2021 and Nagy's after 2022.

"I can add that the contracts have not been part of our discussions," Phillips said. "It's not a concern with anyone. When we show improvements, contacts will take care of themselves."

While Phillips is in charge of any contract extensions, McCaskey obviously gets irritated by all the talk among fans on social media of how he and Phillips meddle in the team's daily affairs.

"Well Ryan and Matt are our football guys," McCaskey said. "I've heard it often that Ted meddles in football affairs and that notion is just absurd. It just doesn't happen.

"He's the president and CEO, Ryan reports to Ted. But the idea that Ted or I meddle in football decisions just isn't true."

McCaskey also relayed one other interraction he had with a fan.

"After one particularly dispiriting loss this season, a season-ticket holder sent me an email that read: 'Fire somebody. We deserve better,' " McCaskey said. "I get it. You deserve your Bears being winners.

"The decisions we're announcing today might not be the easiest of most popular, but we believe they're the best decisions for the Bears."

They were basically non-decisions.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven