4 questions for Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace as Bears head to scouting combine
They will face questions Tuesday for the first time since Dec. 31, two days after the end of a disappointing 8-8 season.
INDIANAPOLIS —Bears coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace will face the media Tuesday for the first time since Dec. 31, two days after the end of a disappointing 8-8 season.
Here are four questions they’ll have to answer at the start of the NFL Scouting Combine:
What’s up with Mitch Trubisky?
When Pace insisted at the end of the season that the struggling Trubisky “is our starter” in 2020, it prompted the question that remains unanswered today: is he committed to the quarterback or bluffing until he can find a better option? Or, in a weird way, both?
After almost two months of examination, Pace will be asked again if Trubisky is his guy. His answer will be telling.
Even If Pace is serious about Trubisky returning as the starter — and remember, his actions will speak louder than words once the league year starts March 18 — he needs to bring in a veteran with starting experience as insurance. The Bears doubled their cap space, roughly, when they saved $13.5 million by cutting cornerback Prince Amukamara and receiver Taylor Gabriel on Friday. They have needs other than quarterback to fill with that money, too.
Pace and Nagy also will be asked to give a medical update on their quarterback, who underwent left shoulder surgery in January.
Does the proposed CBA change things?
Pace demurred on Dec. 31 when asked if he’d pick up Trubisky’s fifth-year option for 2021, a decision due by May 30.
He doesn’t figure to make a declaration Tuesday, either. But it will be interesting to hear how the proposed Collective Bargaining Agreement might affect his thinking.
All first-round picks can be kept for a fifth season if organizations exercise their team options before the player’s fourth year. Currently, Trubisky’s 2021 option is expensive — those deals are slotted, and he was the No. 2 overall pick —but somewhat flexible. Because it’s only guaranteed for injury, the Bears could still cut Trubisky after 2020 with no penalty — as long as he can pass a physical.
The new CBAwould make a fifth-year option fully guaranteed. The price would be based on achievement, not draft position. The Bears would be forced to make a two-year, iron-clad commitment to Trubisky by the end of May, then, but at a lower rate.
The NFLPA will meet Tuesday to discuss the proposed CBA, which has already been approved by the owners. If they approve it this week, most of the CBA would take effect immediately. It’s unclear whether the new fifth-year option rules would apply right away.
Why did you fire your assistants?
At their season-ending press conference, Both Pace and Nagy ducked the question of whether they planned to fire any assistant coaches.
Less than three hours later, they announced they’d canned four: offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, tight ends coach Kevin Gilbride, offensive line coach Harry Hiestand and special teams assistant Brock Olivo.
The moves had been in the works for a while: the next day, word leaked that the Bears had picked Juan Castillo as their next offensive line coach.
Because they wouldn’t explain it then, Nagy and Pace need to now.
Who’s doing what on offense?
By the time the Bears’ assistant coach hiring spree was over, five offensive coaches had new titles. Bill Lazor was named coordinator, with John DeFilippo taking over the quarterbacks coach job from Dave Ragone, who was named pass-game coordinator. Castillo is the new offensive line coach, Clancy Barone the new tight ends coach.
If the team has a pass-game coordinator, who’s in charge of designing runs: Lazor? Castillo? Who will be in Trubisky’s ear more: DeFilippo or Ragone?
With so many cooks in the kitchen, it’s critical that Nagy — who will continue to call the plays —be clear about who’s in charge of what.