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I Was Wrong: Tectonic Shift Proves Pace, Nagy and Trubisky Should All Return in 2021

| December 21st, 2020


The Bears scored 30 points again.

The Bears gained 400 yards again.

The quarterback, with the exception of a couple throws, pitched another stellar rating and looked a different player.

There has been a tectonic shift at the crust of the Chicago Bears organization. Matt Nagy, Bill Lazor and Mitch Trubisky have figured it out. Don’t ask me how, but they have. Suddenly the offensive line is a cohesive, powerful unit. David Montgomery is one of the best running backs in the league. Allen Robinson is a bona fide number one. Cole Kmet and Darnell Mooney are two of the more exciting rookie skill guys in the sport. This scattered collection of puzzle pieces has been put together and the picture is a thing of beauty.

Perhaps most importantly, the Bears are playing an exciting, entertaining brand of football. They are a threat to score every single time they get possession. They are a joy to watch.

And guess what? I was wrong.

Yep, someone in sports “media” is saying it.

I was wrong.

After the Lions collapse, I believed this era of Chicago Bears football was over. Ryan Pace needed to be fired. Nagy needed to be fired. Trubisky needed to be shipped off to The Blake Bortles Hotel & Spa. But several things have become abundantly clear in the two weeks since that collapse.

First, Nagy can coach. Firing him would be football malpractice. Yes, the defense has been struggling but the defense was always going to struggle against Minnesota without two viable corners on the field. (It is clear that side of the side ball requires the coaching attention the offense received in 2020.) Nagy’s team had bad moments in that second half against the Packers but they have responded with spirited efforts week-in-and-week-out since. His players fight for him and it’s obvious.

Second, the quarterback can play. There are two types of top-level starting quarterbacks in the league. There are quarterbacks teams win because of (Rodgers, Mahomes, Wilson) and quarterbacks teams can win with (Goff, Cousins). Trubisky is proving in this second incarnation he belongs in no worse than the latter category. Sure, there will be moments in a game where he leaves you scratching your head. But when the offense is geared to his strengths, he looks calm and composed. And Sunday, for the first time in a few seasons, Trubisky even used his legs at pivotal moments to keep the Vikings defense off-balance. Long story short, and to quote the great Dave Wasserman, I’ve seen enough. Mitch needs to be the starting quarterback in September.

And folks, there’s a third step in this process. If the coach can coach, and the quarterback can play, doesn’t the GM get credit for that? Yes, we all would have preferred to reach these conclusions far sooner. We all would have preferred Trubisky deliver a month like this in 2019. We all would have preferred Nagy reach the conclusion he should relinquish play-calling duties in early October. But individuals – players AND coaches – develop at their own clip. It took the offensive coordinator two and a half seasons to become the head coach. It took the second overall pick three and a half seasons – and a benching – to look the part of NFL quarterback. Missing on Trubisky, botching the QB position, was reason number one to show Pace the door. But with Mitch playing at this level, and Pace’s 2020 draft thriving around him, change seems, at the very least, rash.

Are the Bears going to have a triumphant 2020 season? It’s doubtful. But they’ll be playing meaningful games right up until the final week of the season and that seemed quite unlikely at the tail end of a six-game losing streak. More importantly, they’ve built something on offense that can excite this fan base for September 2021 and beyond. They’ve built an offense that is capable of scoring points in bunches and competing every single week. They finally seem to have done what this space begged them to do for years: they have joined the modern NFL.

And the men responsible for that – the coach, the quarterback, the GM – all deserve to return and see this project out in 2021.

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