What the new Chicago Bears GM, head coach have waiting for them

Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images
Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images /

The Chicago Bears have a search for a new general manager and head coach. This is what they have to look forward to once they are hired.

Once again, the Chicago Bears were players in the NFL’s ritual known as Black Monday. For the fourth time in ten years, they are in search of a head coach after firing Matt Nagy. Additionally, they fired general manager Ryan Pace so their search involves that position as well.

Since there is a lot of work to be done to turn the Bears into a winning team again, the team hopes to get their searches done in a timely manner. In fact, they are conducting both searches concurrently.

It isn’t known how this plan will work out. Normally, a general manager is hired first and then that person hires the head coach. If a head coach is hired first, then the new general manager has to accept the head coach.

This didn’t work for the Bears when they hired Ryan Pace as general manager. He had to accept John Fox as the head coach before he took over. That worked out horribly, as they weren’t a fit and didn’t trust each other. As a result, the Bears finished in last place all three seasons with Fox/Pace together.

We can only hope that even if a head coach is hired before a general manager the Bears at least found a way to have some kind of input from the candidates. They could name some of their head coaching candidates with the general manager candidates and get their opinions on them.

Chicago Bears have a lot of work to do for the new hires

Whoever the Bears hire will have some work to do to get the Bears back on the winning track. During Pace’s tenure since 2015, the team had only one season with a winning record, those three last-place finishes, and zero playoff wins in two trips. They have a record of 46-67.

The new general manager has the job of rebuilding the roster. The Bears have 35 projected free agents and a handful of other players who could be cut or bought out that would free up a great deal of salary cap space.

That could be a good thing or a bad thing. Having that many players as free agents means the Bears will have plenty of cap space. They are projected to have over $40 million in cap space before making cuts or buyouts. They’ll have space but they’ll also need to fill a lot of positions.

The good thing about this is that the new general manager can rebuild the roster quickly and not have too many players he doesn’t want on the team. That person will look at the roster and since there are no ties to any of the players, he’ll be able to cut players loose without thinking about it.

There are a lot of holes on the roster to fill. Take the wide receivers corps. Darnell Mooney is the only receiver under contract for 2022. After all the animosity between Pace and Allen Robinson, he likely doesn’t return. He could decide to return with a new regime. I wouldn’t hold my breath, though.

There are some big decisions to be made on defense. On the defensive line, Akiem Hicks is a fan favorite, but he’s up in age and has suffered through injuries the past several seasons. At this point, the Bears cannot commit a lot of money on him.

Eddie Goldman hasn’t been the same the last two seasons. He opted out of the 2020 season because of COVID but didn’t actually get the vaccine. He was placed on the COVID list twice in 2021. There were also rumors that he wouldn’t come in to play in 2021. He did but it gave off bad vibes. The Bears would save about $8.9 million if they cut him.

Bilal Nichols has done a good job since he joined the Chicago Bears. He is a free agent and the new general manager has to decide if the team re-signs him or not.

The secondary was a concern after the Bears had to let cornerback Kyle Fuller go. Jaylon Johnson was the only cornerback the Bears could depend on. That position has to be shored up.

This offseason, the offensive line needs to be a priority. Under Pace, it wasn’t and it really hurt the offense. The line continually struggled. This season, the Bears gave up the most sacks in the league (58). The Chicago Bears need to protect their franchise quarterback, Justin Fields, as much as possible. He spent too much time running away from pressure and took too many hits.

Speaking of Fields, the new head coach has to assemble the right coaching staff to help the young quarterback succeed. He showed flashes during the 2021 season but spent too much time under a lot of pressure. Also, Nagy did not properly come up with a game plan that utilized Fieds’ abilities. Instead of moving the pocket so Fields could buy time or just tuck it and run, he called too many dropbacks.

The new coach needs to get an offensive coordinator who meshes with him. Nagy and Bill Lazor didn’t seem to be on the same page. If the head coach and offensive coordinator can’t work together, how will they be able to come up with a proper game plan?

The new coach needs to do a good job of knowing his players’ abilities. Nagy didn’t have the ability to analyze his players. He relied too much on veterans to the detriment of younger players. He gave Fields no reps with the starters during training camp or preseason games.

As a result, when Fields took over he had a period of time in which he and his receivers had to adjust to each other. The only one he connected with from the start was Mooney, and that was because the two players worked together after practices.

Another example is Thomas Graham Jr. He spent the season on the practice squad until Week 15. The only reason he played in that game was that the entire cornerbacks unit was on the COVID list. He started and did a great job, raising questions about why he wasn’t activated earlier.

Despite playing well, Graham didn’t play very much. In four games, he played on just 112 snaps. Of those, 64 of them were in his first game. He only played on 10 snaps in his last two games. Nagy preferred to play Artie Burns over Graham.

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There is a lot of work for the new general manager and head coach to do this offseason. Let’s hope the search for each candidate doesn’t become drawn out and the new hires could hit the ground running and turn the Chicago Bears’ fortunes around quickly.