Earl Bennett doesn’t mind saying what many Chicago Bears are feeling right now after Wednesday’s revelations about the 2021 future of the franchise.
Bears Chairman George McCaskey and President/CEO Ted Phillips held an end-of-year press conference on Wednesday morning in which they announced both general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy would be retained for the 2021 season — as earlier reports indicated — but that neither would receive a contract extension.
Predictably, the uninspired decision didn’t sit well with Bears fans who have grown increasingly frustrated with Pace throughout his six-year tenure, but now even former players like Bennett are starting to publicly question the choices of their former organization.
— Earl B. Bennett (@EarlBBennett) January 13, 2021
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McCaskey Aware Decisions Would Upset Fans
McCaskey and Phillips made their fair shares of excuses and deflections while addressing a hard-nosed Chicago media on Wednesday, spending more time talking about the quality of Pace and Nagy to their football team than the disappointing regression they have experienced over the past two seasons. McCaskey even went as far as to say both “impressed” him in 2021, particularly for how they held things together during their six-game losing streak.
At the same time, neither McCaskey nor Phillips seemed convinced it would be a decision that would quiet the enraged masses. In fact, McCaskey was so sure that the news would upset Bears fans that he even preemptively addressed their frustrations during Wednesday’s presser. Here’s how he put it:
“I want to take a moment to tell Bears fans, we understand your frustration. We’re frustrated, too. And it would be a perfectly natural reaction to say, ‘Back up the truck. Major overhaul.’ Whatever you want to call it. After one particularly dispiriting loss this season, a season-ticket holder sent me an email that read: ‘Fire somebody. We deserve better.’
“I get it. You deserve your Bears being winners. The decisions we’re announcing today might not be the easiest or most popular, but we believe they’re the best decisions for the Bears.”
Bennett Knew Better Days in Chicago
The Bears weren’t exactly consistent winners during Bennett’s six years in Chicago, but the retired wide receiver never had to go through the same downward spirals as Pace’s Bears have. The worst finish he saw was 7-9 in Jay Cutler’s first year, and they bounced back to go 11-5 the next season and make it as far as the NFC championship game. The Bears also never went more than a year without a winning season during those years (2008-13).
Meanwhile, the Bears have gone a combined 42-54 in the regular season under Pace with three exceptionally bad years under former head coach John Fox to begin the era. Twelve of those wins also came from Nagy’s first season at the helm in 2018 when they won the NFC North.
On the bright side, Nagy’s ledger isn’t horrible after three full seasons as the Bears head coach. He has the third-best winning percentage (.583) in franchise history among coaches who have spent at least 48 games at the helm, beating out Fox (.292) by a mile and even holding an edge over Lovie Smith (.563) — despite Smith coaching 144 games for the Bears.