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Most of What George McCaskey Said Doesn’t Matter. Except This.

| January 11th, 2022

(This following column is by my former Chicago Now colleague, Adam Oestmann.)


Let’s start here: George McCaskey is not an idiot. A graduate of the Arizona State School of Law, McCaskey once served as an assistant state’s attorney in DeKalb and Lee counties before taking a position as ticketing director with his family-owned football team, the Chicago Bears, in 1991.

George would do that job — and by all accounts do it well — for the next 20 years, before being appointed Chairman of the Board following the retirement of his older brother Michael in 2011. At the time, Michael had this to say about his little brother: “He knows a lot about tickets and interacting with fans. He needs to add to that, and he will; knowledge about the finances of an NFL team, marketing, IT, sponsorships — all of the things that go into running an NFL team today.”

We’ll come back to that.

The morning of the NFL’s Black Monday, ESPN insider Adam Schefter reported the expected; the Bears had fired head coach Matt Nagy. Shortly thereafter, Schefter reported the less expected news that the team had also parted ways with its general manager, Ryan Pace. Bears fans were elated.

And while some may have reveled in two oft-vilified men losing their jobs, most of said elation had little to do with schadenfreude and everything to do with hope for the future. Nagy and Pace, consummate professionals to the bitter end, are nothing short of respectable men who were unable to achieve desired results. A new start means maybe the next people will. It’s that simple.

And so, the Chicago Bears quickly sent out a press release, saying that George McCaskey would be available to speak to the media that afternoon. The cherry on top for Bears fans being that George’s name was the only one on the release. Just like Christmas morning, we thought. Everything we wanted and more. A fresh start, and no Ted Phillips. Ahh.

That’s where elation ended.

Approximately an hour after 1:00 PM Chicago time, and most Bears fans were left scratching their heads at best, sick to their stomachs at worst. George McCaskey had found a way fumble the ball at the goal line. Opening with what I have no doubt was a well-intentioned tribute to the late Jeff Dickerson that was somehow shoehorned into a segue intended to chastise youngsters for heckling Matt Nagy at a high school football game, to having Ted on call, to refusing to speak his young quarterback’s name or offer Justin Fields even a token vote of confidence when offered the chance to do so three or four times, to calling Olin Kreutz a liar. Complete and total dumpster fire was all I could think. You had Bears fans in the palm of your hand and managed to screw it up in less than an hour.

I said that I don’t believe George McCaskey is an idiot. I think that’s true. But he is beyond tone deaf.

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Oestmann: This is Deeper Than Play-Calling for Matt Nagy.

| September 27th, 2021

Adam Oestmann was a colleague of DBB during our ill-fated period at ChicagoNow. But he’s a writer I’ve always admired and a genuinely good dude. Thrilled to publish his thoughts here.


It didn’t take long after the Bears hired Matt Nagy in 2018 for the media to label him the offensive guru Chicago football fans had been hoping for. The former Chiefs’ offensive coordinator had spent just a single season in that role, and only part of it calling plays. Nevertheless, the Chiefs ranked among the NFL’s best when it came to scoring points that season, finishing sixth in the league, and Nagy, it seemed, was poised to turn the tide in Chicago.

That was 2018.

Three years and into a fourth season later and – when it comes to scoring points at least – Nagy is, statistically, one of the worst offensive head coaches in the history of this franchise. Nagy’s 2019, 2020 and, thus far, 2021 points-per-game rank among the worst for the team. Ever. It would seem the offensive-minded quarterbacks guru the Bears thought they were getting didn’t exist from Jump Street.

Following a three-game losing streak and heading into a Week 10 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings last season, a reluctant Nagy relinquished play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. The Bears went on to lose to the Vikings 19-13, but an interesting thing began to happen that cannot be seen on a stats page: the Bears’ offense seemed to be forming an identity. Finishing the regular season 8-8, the team earned a Wild Card playoff berth before being knocked out by the 12-4 Saints.

Bill Lazor’s calls, it turned out, were good for more than a touchdown per game over Nagy’s (on average). In a league where many games are decided by less, Lazor’s eight points-above-replacement number was significant. If Nagy had been able to find those eight points earlier in the season, his team might have won as many as three more games.

But let’s not get too lost in the weeds.

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