How attractive is the Chicago Bears HC job in 2022?

Ryan Pace, bears

CHICAGO, IL–Just two weeks remain before the Chicago Bears officially move on from head coach Matt Nagy and begin searching for the 17th head coach in franchise history. With Nagy on his way out, the future of general manager Ryan Pace remains uncertain, with the possibility of a return not off the table.

The Bears brass being split on what to do with Pace leads to an intriguing question: If Pace is allowed a third head coach, just how attractive is the Bears head coaching gig in 2022? With rookie quarterback, Justin Fields in the fold through at least the 2024 season, any new head coach would be guaranteed at least three seasons.

Then consider the rest of the offense. The Bears have some upcoming talent in offensive tackles Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom, running back Khalil Herbert, wide receiver Darnell Mooney, and tight end Cole Kmet. Add that to an offensive core that already includes interior offensive lineman James Daniels and Cody Whitehair, along with running back David Montgomery, and it’s clear the Bears offense has the potential to be exciting.

Defense is a different story for the Bears, one that will require a full retooling. Cornerback Jaylon Johnson, linebacker Roquan Smith, pass rusher Khalil Mack, and safety Eddie Jackson form an exciting core. While 11th-year pass rusher Robert Quinn is on the verge of setting the franchise’s single-season sack record, Quinn likely won’t be with the Bears beyond 2022. The Bears’ willingness to rely heavily on defense throughout the Nagy era will soon be met with an overhaul that will form the foundation of the next great defense in Chicago.

Consider this too: Chicago is an original charter franchise of the NFL and in the third biggest market in the United States, the thought of merely getting the Bears back to relevance should excite prospective candidates. With a handful of jobs set to be open soon, the Bears surely offer one of the most enticing destinations for head coaches who are looking to win quickly and get a prominent franchise back to contention.

Chicago Bears: Week 16 takeaways, tidbits, and more

cole kmet, bears

SEATTLE, WA.,–After winning in week 16, the Chicago Bears have now moved to 5-10 on the year and while a playoff spot is out of reach, let’s recap the Bears 25-24 win over the Seattle Seahawks.

1) Nick Foles final stat line may not be the flashiest but on a snowy day, he did average 7.1 yards per pass attempt. Foles’ confidence was apparent while slinging the rock all afternoon. Two throws sum up this confidence: The 15-yard touchdown to Jimmy Graham and the two-point conversion to Damiere Byrd. In both instances, Foles gave his playmakers a chance.

2) Despite having what seemed to be a solid day, running back David Montgomery averaged just 2.1 yards per carry. Seattle keyed in on Montgomery, hoping to stop him early and often. It is worth noting the Bears abandoned the running game early, which also contributed to Montgomery’s final stat line.

3) Speaking of running backs, Sunday was an ideal time to use rookie Khalil Herbert, who had a 20-yard rushing touchdown. The Bears have to start thinking about the future at some point and what Herbert brings to the table as a player who can spark an offense. Whenever Herbert has been given the rock this season, the Bears have moved the ball effectively, including big chunk plays.

4) Let’s stick with the young guys for just a second here. Rookie WR Dazz Newsome had just one reception for 10 yards on the afternoon. But why does Newsome’s lone reception stick out? It was in a third-and-long situation, helping Chicago move the football and keep the drive going. The Bears have to look into getting Newsome involved more over the final two weeks to gain just enough of an idea of what he can do for the team going forward.

5) The foregone conclusion seems to be that head coach Matt Nagy is getting fired at the end of the season. And for the Bears, there is no turning back. But players are still fighting and playing hard for Nagy. When the Bears do eventually relieve Nagy of his job duties, it will be a tough pill to swallow around Halas Hall in what is a results-based business.

“Coach Nagy, he’s an amazing coach, an even better person,” said Montgomery following the game. “I feel like everybody kind of got weird, this bad depiction of who he is but he’s also, he’s actually a great guy and a great coach. Ever since I’ve been on the Bears, day in and day out, he’s always emptied his cup.”

6) Pass rusher Robert Quinn needs just one more sack to set the Bears single-season sack record, surpassing Richard Dent, who currently holds the record with 17.0 sacks. Every time Quinn was asked about the record in his postgame press conference, he simply decided to knock on wood and maintained the stance that while his individual year is something noteworthy, it doesn’t mean much considering the way the Bears season has gone.

“Well my individual year don’t seem as great because we aren’t winning,” said Quinn. “Haven’t had the success over the year as a team so it’s kind of, for a split second, I could be proud of myself but then the next second, I’m kind of quite highly upset because we lost.”

7) Veteran CB Artie Burns started the game for the Bears before Chicago decided to slowly insert rookie Thomas Graham Jr. into the game. Burns hasn’t blown anyone away but has still showcased enough potential to warrant being on the roster in 2022 and competing for a spot. Despite being beat by Seahawks WR D.K. Metcalf for a 41-yard touchdown, Graham Jr. had a solid showing as a player who is looking to put strong performances together to kickstart his career as a starter in 2022.

8) Cole Kmet and Darnell Mooney once again had strong showings as the Bears 2020 draft class showed up once again. Mooney had a 30-yard reception on the Bears’ final touchdown drive while Kmet had two receptions for 30 yards to set up a field goal for the Bears. Chicago needs to be pleased with the progress both players are making this season, especially as the Bears continue to look ahead to 2022.

9) Speaking of Mooney, he had five receptions on Sunday afternoon, now giving him 62 receptions on the season. Mooney has already surpassed his reception total from 2020, which was 61. With two games left, Mooney has a chance to get to 70 receptions as he continues to ascend into the face of the WR position for the Bears.

10) The Bears defense put together another strong showing on Sunday afternoon and while there were times where it appeared as if Seahawks QB Russell Wilson was going to take over the game, Chicago held Wilson in check. Wilson was just 16-for-27 with 181 passing yards and a QBR of 30.8. The Bears’ entire gameplan was predicated on stopping Wilson, knowing he covers up for a lot of holes on the Seattle offense.

Chicago Bears win ugly on snowy day in Seattle

SEATTLE, WA.,—On a snowy day in Seattle, the Chicago Bears managed to come away with a victory after scoring 11 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. As veteran quarterback, Nick Foles made his first start in nearly 400 calendar days, the Bears offense was putrid to begin the game before Foles completed passes of 30, 10, and 14 yards on a six-play, 80-yard drive that took just under two minutes before Foles connected with tight end Jimmy Graham for a 15-yard touchdown pass. Foles would follow up his only touchdown pass of the game by connecting with wide receiver Damiere Byrd on a two-point conversion to give the Bears the lead.

Rookie running back Khalil Herbert also helped the Bears in the second half, adding on a 20-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter to cut Seattle’s lead to just 10 points. From there, the Bears’ defense would allow Seattle to see the endzone just once more before Seahawks kicker Jason Myers missed a field goal, giving the Bears some much-needed momentum.

Chicago’s defense got involved as well, with pass rusher Robert Quinn sacking QB Russell Wilson just once, inching closer to breaking Richard Dent’s single-season sack record. Rookie cornerback Thomas Grham Jr. had another good showing with three tackles and one pass breakup, despite allowing Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf to score a 41-yard passing touchdown.

As has been a common theme for the Bears over the last few weeks, Chicago had the ball for just over 38 minutes, 26 first downs, and zero turnovers. Matt Nagy has shown time and time again that the Bears are able to sustain long drives, however, the Bears were just 2-for-4 in the redzone, with a key turnover on downs early in the first quarter that ended a 15-play, 71-yard drive that took 8:27 off the clock.

As the Bears get ready to return home for a matchup against the New York Giants in what could be the final game of the Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace era, expect the Bears to get healthier with just two games remaining in 2021.

Chicago Bears: Week 15 takeaways, quick tidbits, and more

With week 15 having wrapped up for the Chicago Bears, it’s time to go back and recap another painful Bears loss in an already lost season.

1) Let’s start with rookie cornerback Thomas Graham Jr., who had seven tackles and three pass breakups in his first career start. When the Bears drafted Graham Jr. in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft, he was labeled as a hidden gem and future starter. Despite just one start, Graham Jr. did more than enough to show why he can be the Bears answer at CB moving forward, opposite Jaylon Johnson. For a team that will have a lot of needs to address in 2022, having two starting CB’s on rookie deals will provide cap flexibility.

2) Justin Fields had his ups and downs in this game but at the end of the day, Fields performance was more encouraging than most would admit. After orchestrating five trips to the redzone, the Bears scored a touchdown just once but it was Fields leading the way on each of those drives. Moral of the story is that while Fields’ progress may not seem apparent, the Bears are at least moving the ball but failing to execute in key situations. Essentially, the Bears’ offensive struggles aren’t Fields fault, who’s been dealt a bad hand.

3) Robert Quinn deserves no more slander for the rest of the season. Quinn had two sacks on Monday night and now has 16 total sacks on the season. With three games left, Quinn needs just one more sack to break the Bears franchise record for single-season sacks, which is set at 17.0 by Richard Dent. After last season, many assumed Quinn was set to regress even more in 2021 but so far, he’s been an investment that’s paid off big time.

4) Matt Nagy was the playcaller on Monday for the Bears due to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor being out as a result of COVID-19. Nagy’s playcalling was about as predictable as it’s been since the much-lambasted head coach arrived in Chicago four seasons ago. Nagy’s inability to call the right plays in the redzone hurt the Bears, forcing the defense to win the game.

5) Justin Fields threw 39 times, completing just 26 passes. When the Bears switched to Fields, the offense was more balanced but still was run-first, with everything clicking. Over the last few weeks, the Bears have abandoned their run-first philosophy and conveyed that it’s up to the passing attack to win the game.

6) Credit to defensive coordinator Sean Desai and the Bears defense. Despite missing Jaylon Johnson, Eddie Jackson, and Tashaun Gipson, Desai found a way to hold Vikings QB Kirk Cousins to just 87 passing yards and 3.6 yards per attempt. Cousins isn’t elite by any means but the Bears secondary got the job done, which is all that matters.

7) If anything, this was a game that the Bears could’ve won with ease. The Vikings didn’t necessarily look like the better team but the Bears’ own mistakes actually created some momentum and allowed the Vikings to capitalize on missed opportunities.

8) Robert Quinn’s criticism of the refereeing is warranted. In an age where the game continues to be more QB friendly, Quinn alluded to how it’s harder to play defense in the NFL and that sometimes, calls that seem to be too close, should just be let go.

“”These refs seem like they’re controlling the game a little too much. So, when a play is clean and they’re throwing a flag for something that they thought they could change a game [with] just by one flag … let guys play ball. If this was a couple years ago, half of this stuff wouldn’t even be called. But now, they got so many of these stupid rules, they dang near in a ref’s hands [and] could change the game in any given moment.”

Quinn has every right to be upset, especially as a player who’s having such a resurgent season after being named to his third Pro Bowl.

9) Let’s talk about LB Roquan Smith being snubbed from the Pro Bowl. Smith has emerged as one of the best LB’s in the NFL over the last few years but why does he keep getting snubbed is a major point of contention. Smith is every bit talented as Darius Leonard, Bobby Wagner, and Denzel Perryman. At the end of the day, while Smith may not get the recognition he’s earned, the Bears should be content knowing they have a blue-chip player and a leader in Smith.

10) Minnesota averaged just 4.0 yards per rushing attempt. While running back Dalvin Cook has 89 total yards, the Bears limited Cook to just 3.2 yards per carry, an impressive feat as Akiem Hicks returned to the lineup and provided a spark to a defense that badly needed one. Credit once again goes to Sean Desai for being able to put together a solid game plan, with the Bears’ defensive line dominating in the trenches.

Chicago Bears: An unnecessary implosion against the Vikings

bears, matt nagy

Chicago, IL–If you watched the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football in week 15, props to you for sitting through one of the ugliest games of the season. A week after losing to the Green Bay Packers on national television, the Bears returned to Soldier Field to take on Minnesota Vikings in another ugly game that was mirrored by inconsistency all across the board for Chicago on offense.

Rookie quarterback Justin Fields had one fumble on the evening but once again, the Bears failed to get any sort of rhythm established around the 11th overall pick, forcing Fields to once again play with desperation, doing anything to keep the Bears relevant. The Bears had five total redzone trips, with just one ending in a touchdown. Add in a missed field goal from Kicker Cairo Santos and the Bears were once again a dumpster fire throughout the evening.

What the Bears did do correctly was play hard-nosed on the defensive side of the ball. Rookie cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. was a pleasant bright spot who emerged in his first career start. Graham Jr. had seven tackles and three pass breakups, leading an already depleted secondary. Pass rusher Robert Quinn took yet another step forward with four total tackles and two sacks as the 11-year veteran looks to chase Richard Dent’s single-season sack record, which is currently set at 17.5.

From a numbers standpoint, the Bears had 24 total first downs and 370 total yards of offense, compared to Minnesota, which had just 193 total yards and 13 first downs. Despite sacking Vikings QB Kirk Cousins four times, what really hurt Chicago was seven total penalties, some of which could be considered questionable calls by the officiating crew.

With the Bears’ latest loss, Chicago has now lost 10 games on the season and has lost three total divisional games this season against NFC North opponents. Up next for the Bears is a road trip to the Pacific Northwest, where Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks await.

Chicago Bears: Losing streak now at five games after latest loss

bears, matt nagy

What seemed to be a relatively competitive game for the Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon got away very quickly in the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Soldier Field. After failing to score on the first six possessions, the Bears finally managed to get on the board after wide receiver Darnell Mooney scored a 60-yard touchdown with just 8:12 remaining in the third quarter.

With rookie quarterback Justin Fields leaving the game due to an injury and then being ruled out, the Bears were forced to turn to veteran Andy Dalton, who tossed two second-half touchdowns, including a 49-yard pass touchdown to wide receiver Marquise Goodwin on 4th-and-11.

Veteran pass rusher Robert Quinn, who is in the second year of a five-year $70M contract signed in 2020 made an impact all afternoon. With Khalil Mack sidelined for the remainder of the year due to a foot injury, Quinn totaled five tackles, 3.5 sacks, three tackles for loss, and four quarterback hits, making his presence felt from the beginning.

Currently, in the middle of a five-game losing streak, the Bears’ final seven opponents will be against NFC teams. However, this latest loss to the Ravens stings merely because Chicago seemed to be in the game until the very final possession when Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley connected with wide receiver Sammy Watkins for a 29-yard gain with just 33 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. From there, running back Devonta Freeman scored a three-yard rushing touchdown to give Baltimore the lead.

Despite being shorthanded with no Allen Robinson, Eddie Jackson, or Akiem Hicks, the Bears did all a three-win team could to try and stay competitive but ultimately, a missed field goal in the first half by kicker Cairo Santos and an inability to execute in key situations made the difference in the Bears latest loss. With the Bears scheduled to play in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day, the opportunity to snap a five-game losing streak presents itself.

Chicago Bears: What did the first half of 2021 teach us?

david montgomery, bears

With the Chicago Bears officially on a bye week, the first half of the season has wrapped up and with just eight games remaining, the Bears face an uphill climb to make the playoffs in 2021.

Much has been made of the first half of the Bears season. There have been ups but also downs and while 2021 is all about the development of rookie quarterback Justin Fields, the Bears 2022 offseason is taking shape.

The Bears’ first half has shown us that looking ahead to 2022, much of the roster remains unresolved with impending free agents that include WR Allen Robinson, guard James Daniels, and DE Bilal Nichols. Chicago’s best hope is that Daniels and Nichols market is cheaper than originally expected with Robinson likely on the way out.

While Fields continues to be a bright spot on offense, much like the Bears running game. Chicago’s offensive line has struggled with Center Sam Mustipher being a weak link. When head coach Matt Nagy mentions self-reflection, this should include looking at the offensive line and reshuffling the interior. That means moving veteran Cody Whitehair back to center and inserting Alex Bars into the starting lineup.

As a vertical passing game, Fields improved chemistry with wide receivers Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney was on display in week nine. This is a connection that needs more growth with the hope that Mooney and Fields are on the same page by seasons’ end.

Then there’s the defense. Without Khalil Mack for two straight games, Chicago struggled to generate any consistent pass rush while holes in the secondary were visible. Second-year cornerback Jaylon Johnson has taken a leap and safety Eddie Jackson remains an asset in coverage but a liability as an open field tackler. Veteran Robert Quinn continues to have a resurgent season but still needs to be consistent during the second half of the season.

The Bears 2021 season has showed that work remains to be done. Fields makes Chicago’s future bright and the Bears have a quarterback. What remains to be seen is whether or not the Bears can build around Fields, using the rest of 2021 as a roster evaluation to build a plan around Fields as soon as 2022 arrives.

Chicago Bears: Holes apparent in week eight loss

Trevis Gipson, bears

In what was deemed a very winnable game for the Chicago Bears in week eight at home, the Bears struggled, failing to put together a complete game in all three phases. Chicago averaged 4.8 yards per play, with rookie quarterback Justin Fields rushing for a 22-yard touchdown on fourth-and-one to give the Bears some life.

The Bears season isn’t necessarily over but Chicago has now lost three straight games to NFC opponents. Since week six, losses to the Green Bay Packers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and now San Francisco 49ers have put the three win Bears on the outside looking in, in the context of a playoff spot.

Sunday afternoon was an eye-opening moment for the Bears as a whole. Through the first seven games of the season, the assumption was that Chicago featured a solid defense while the offense would struggle. Sunday afternoon proved to be different.

The 49ers gashed the Bears’ defense throughout the second half, with multiple throws down the middle of the field late in the fourth quarter. Chicago simply wasn’t playing with enough speed on the defensive side of the ball to warrant slowing down the 49ers’ offense. The Bears pass rush failed to generate any sacks, even with Khalil Mack out

Mack’s absence leads to an important question regarding Akiem Hicks and Robert Quinn, both of whom failed to record a sack on Sunday. How much of Hicks and Quinn’s success in 2021 is the result of Mack’s presence? Mack may not always pad the stat sheet but his impact was felt on Sunday afternoon.

The Bears offense did show signs of life but there wasn’t enough. It’s clear that the Bears aren’t a very good team around Fields, with the inability to execute prevalent from the wide receiver, tight end, and offensive line.

The Bears have a long way to go before being relevant again. Fields provides hope for the future but Chicago’s holes were visible on Sunday afternoon for a team that has struggled mightily in 2021.

Chicago Bears: Will short-handed defense rebound in week eight?

Trevis Gipson, bears

With the Chicago Bears returning home in week eight to take on the San Francisco 49ers, there is a high likelihood that Chicago is without pass rushers Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn. Add in a groin injury for defensive lineman Akiem Hicks and Chicago’s defense could be missing three integral pieces from its front seven.

If Hicks, Mack, and Quinn don’t suit up for the Bears, Chicago will need to rely on depth to beat San Francisco, who is averaging 22.5 points per game, good for 19th in the NFL. While the Bears defense allowed just three points in the second half of week 7 in a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, another noteworthy stat from week 7 is that Chicago also failed to record a sack for the first time all season.

The Bears are hoping to redeem themselves in a big way on Sunday afternoon. A win against the 49ers on the heels of a solid defensive performance before what is expected to be a tough road matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers would be a confidence booster heading into the bye week.

“You know, that’s part of this NFL, is, it’s a long season and that was week seven and obviously the result wasn’t what we wanted from a team perspective and certainly from a defensive perspective,” said defensive coordinator Sean Desai via the Bears official YouTube channel. “But having said that, there’s also some things that we can build off of, off that tape. And there’s some things of swarm and particularly in the second half where the guys play with tremendous energy and good technique and fundamentals that we’re going to continue to build on.”

Chicago will need to get creative when it comes to putting together a good enough game plan. Can cornerbacks Jaylon Johnson and Kindle Vildor forget a shaky performance where both defensive backs allowed a combined four passing touchdowns while the front seven gets back to sacking quarterback? A win could certainly alter the trajectory of the Bears season.

Chicago Bears: Time for Trevis Gipson to step up

Trevis Gipson, bears

With the Chicago Bears returning home to take on the San Francisco 49ers in week eight, reports have surfaced that the face of the Bears defense, Khalil Mack is unlikely to play due to a foot injury.

To be clear, the Bears have yet to make a final decision on whether or not Mack will be placed on injured reserve. Should the Bears elect to place Mack on injured reserve, the Bears could be without their top two pass rushers on Sunday.

Chicago, whose pass rush is already short-handed with veteran Robert Quinn being on the reserve/COVID-19 list will likely rely on second-year pass rusher Trevis Gipson to fill the void. Expect undrafted free agent Charles Snowden to be called up to the active roster.

With an aging defense, the only silver lining is that Gipson and Snowden will get additional reps, giving the Bears an opportunity to evaluate what young talent of the future is able to do. While Mack is under contract through the 2024 season, the likelihood of Quinn being designated as a post-June first cut in 2022 seems high, especially with the Bears hoping to extend linebacker Roquan Smith, a key face of the defense.

For the first time all season in week 7, a hobbled Mack and banged up Bears defense failed to record a sack. While Chicago is one of the NFL’s leading teams in total sacks, the 49ers do have a solid enough offensive line that will be sure to test Gipson and Snowden.

Gipson’s progression as a rotational player will be under the microscope throughout the rest of the season. Playing just 35 percent of snaps on defense in 2021, the second-year pass rusher has missed 23.1 percent of tackles but racked up two sacks, two quarterback hits, and two tackles for loss.

For the first time in what feels like forever, the Bears defense may not trot out Mack against an opponent, meaning the true mentality of next-man-up will be on display Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field.