According to multiple reports, general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy will be back for the 2021 NFL season while defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano is said to be retiring.
Pagano coached the defense for the past two seasons in Chicago, and as the defensive signal-caller, his unit finished in the top five in least amount of points allowed per game in both seasons.
But Pagano’s unit never returned to form after Vic Fangio left following the 2018 NFL season, which saw the defense lead the league in takeaways with 36. From 2019-20, Pagano’s defense managed just 37 takeaways.
Pace and Nagy are set to return for their fourth straight season. Since Nagy was named coach in 2018, the Bears have made the playoffs in two of the last three years, which is the first time the Bears have done that since the 2005-06 seasons, when Lovie Smith was the coach.
The Bears, however, are coming off back-to-back 8-8 performances. This most recent one featured Mitch Trubisky being benched for Nick Foles, only for Foles to later lose his starting job after being injured and going 2-5 as the starter.
Nagy also gave up play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. And in the Bears’ two most important games of the 2020 season, Week 17 vs. Green Bay and the Wild Card game against New Orleans, the offense scored 25 total points.
First on the Bears’ agenda will be to search for their new defensive coordinator, and an in-house candidate who may get a look at the job is defensive line coach Jay Rodgers.
With Chuck Pagano retiring, have to imagine #Bears will at least consider DL coach Jay Rodgers for defensive coordinator role. They hold him in high regard and have for some time. With the staff surely under a win-now mandate, it can be challenging to get top outside candidates.
— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) January 13, 2021
Next on the priority list will be whether or not the Bears bring back Trubisky, the former No. 2 overall pick in 2017’s NFL Draft. On May 2, 2020, the Bears declined his fifth-year option, making him a free agent in 2021.
Trubisky did help the Bears reach the playoffs when he was renamed the starter in Week 12 against the Packers. In the last six games of the regular season, the offense averaged 30.2 points per game and finished 3-3, which was enough to clinch a playoff berth, thanks to the Rams defeating the Cardinals in Week 17.
Foles still has two years remaining on his contract and is set to have a $6.6 million cap hit for the 2021 season. Despite Pace only drafting one quarterback since being named GM in 2015, Trubisky, it is likely, but not guaranteed, that Pace will get another swing at drafting a quarterback — this time with Nagy as coach.
As it appears on the surface, Pagano seems to be the scapegoat this time for Chicago’s unsuccessful 2020 NFL season. Following the Bears’ 8-8 record in 2019, the Bears parted ways with offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, tight ends coach Kevin Gilbride Jr. and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich.
The Bears will pick 20th in the 2021 NFL Draft, making this the first year since 2018 that Chicago has a first-round pick.