George McCaskey Remained Defiant Even While Admitting Chicago Bears Failures

Bears McCaskey

In a bizarre turn of events, starting at 1 p.m. locally, the Chicago Bears took whatever goodwill they built up with fans earlier in the day and flushed it. What’s worse, they wrapped it in napalm and lit it on fire. Also, the toilet doesn’t work. That’s what it felt like as team chairman George McCaskey opened his press conference that was intended to address major changes.

He did eventually address the dismissal of Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy as general manager and head coach, respectively. But he took a circuitous route to get there. He first chose to admonish fans that chanted during Nagy’s son’s football game.

Those chants – which took place at several arenas in Chicagoland – occurred in November.

Yet, there was McCaskey, using the passing of Bears beat writer, Jeff Dickerson, and his surviving son to chastise fans.

George McCaskey, Chicago Bears Built Fans Up Just to Tear Them Down in Presser

Giveth and Taketh

Fans got their wish. News broke the Bears had indeed fired Nagy less than 24 hours after the Bears blew a 14 point lead and allowed the Minnesota Vikings to score 31 unanswered points to finish the season with a 6-11 record. The coach, who has been faced with his fate since Thanksgiving, sounded comfortable with it in his postgame presser.

After essentially twisting in the wind for the past month and a half, he didn’t have to wait long after the Bears season was officially over to learn of his new reality.

That was a forgone conclusion, though, with the real surprise being Pace’s firing.

The last few weeks have been littered with smoke signals that Pace could return for an eighth season despite being the architect behind what would have been the second rebuild under his watch.

His tenure ends with a 48-65 record, while Nagy’s stands at 34-31. The duo combined for two postseason appearances and no playoff wins. The success of 2018 was fleeting and probably bought him more time than was warranted when viewed with an objective eye. Nagy was stubborn to the end, going for it on fourth down multiple times in Week 18 and failing.

To hear them tell it, they are just a piece or two away. The reality is that they are leaving it slightly better than how they found it.

That will be especially true if Justin Fields pans out.

In the Loop

Fields did come up, naturally, with McCaskey saying that last year’s 11th-overall pick won’t be directly involved in the coaching search. He did add that he is interested to hear the thoughts of the general manager and coaching candidates on Fields. It isn’t unprecedented to not consult a young player on coaching matters.

However, it is also a decision that could come back to haunt them. Of course, this too could just be lip service.

We were told of an effective reassignment of team president Ted Phillips. After more than two decades overseeing football operations, his focus will shift to the Bears new Arlington Heights project, which they say is still far from being settled on for a new stadium.

There is a rub, however.

McCaskey said Phillips will be involved in the search for the new general manager, who operates as the football czar in the Bears front office model. That general manager will report directly to him, Phillips will negotiate the contract, and they will consult a group that includes Bill Polian and Tony Dungy.

If it sounds like a familiar plan, that’s because it is. They went through a similar process with Ernie Accorsi back in 2015 that resulted in Pace.

There are also some questions over Polian’s ability to assess talent for the current NFL.

Ultimately, the issue is that McCaskey and Phillip have both been a part of the searches over the last 10-20 years. Why should fans feel confident that they are still the right people who can get this turned around?

The Best Part

As if the opening statements weren’t enough, McCaskey’s interview included a shot at Eddie Jackson, downing Mark Konkol of Patch.com’s report that said Nagy had been informed of his firing before Thanksgiving, as well as McCaskey saying he was essentially offended by Nagy asking him football questions.

Per the Bear chairman, “I’m just a fan. I’m not a football evaluator.”

Phillips also noted that he had “no regrets” over hiring Nagy or Pace. He said that he would look for similar traits to the “great leaders” and “forward thinkers” in the next candidates.

There is a lot to unpack in that quote alone. No one should have expected him to say he regretted the hires. But the platitudes felt disingenuous amid the setting and tone-deaf considering the track record. Also, him saying what he will be looking for is concerning.

Still, the day was McCaskey’s to ruin. He proceeded to question the integrity of one of the most beloved figures in team history. Former All-Pro center, Olin Kreutz said the team offered him a position for $15 an hour. George dismissed this as untrue. This led to an impassioned appearance on the radio from the 14-year veteran.

The whole thing is worth listening to if for no other reason than to see how not to handle what could have been their time to show they had turned a new leaf.

Yet to Come

Now we await the search and subsequent new hires. We are left with positive signs. They have already requested permission to interview the likes of former Bears defensive back Leslie Frazier and Doug Pederson (a friend of Nagy’s) for the head coaching job. Chicago has also sought permission to speak with Browns execs Glenn Cook and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah for their general manager position.

They have also been linked to the University of Michigan head coach and former Bears quarterback Jim Harbaugh.

Whatever they do, it better be good.

They certainly didn’t leave fans feeling great despite the (nearly) clean slate they will have. But, on a day full of quotable moments, McCaskey did note there was nothing he could say on Monday to allay fans’ concerns. If anything, they leaned right into them.

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