CHICAGO — The Chicago Bears will keep head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace for the 2021 season, the team announced Wednesday.
Bears chairman George McCaskey praised Nagy’s ability to navigate the team through a six-game losing streak this season and help lead Chicago to the playoffs, but he also announced that neither Nagy nor Pace will receive contract extensions.
Although the Bears will retain their coach and GM, veteran defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano announced Wednesday that he has decided to retire from coaching after two years with the team.
Nagy has two years remaining on his deal with the Bears, while Pace’s contract expires after the 2021 season.
“Ryan and Matt are men of character,” McCaskey said. “I’ve been most impressed with how well they collaborate. I was impressed with both of them this past season, especially during the six-game losing streak. The fact that our players never gave up is a tribute to the players.
“It is also indicative of the type of players that Ryan acquires and to the players’ regard for Matt as their head coach. Have mistakes been made? Yes. But I think both Ryan and Matt are learning and growing in their roles.”
The fates of Nagy and Pace had been uncertain after the Bears lost eight of 11 to end the season and finished 1-7 versus playoff teams in 2020. Chicago went 8-8 in the regular season but was eliminated from the playoffs by the New Orleans Saints in a 21-9 loss Sunday in the Superdome.
“I want to take a moment to tell Bears fans, we understand your frustration,” McCaskey said. “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.”
Nagy — named NFL Coach of the Year in 2018 — has guided the Bears to two postseason berths in the past three years. Pace just completed his sixth year as Chicago’s GM.
Pagano, 60, spent just two seasons in Chicago after a six-year run as head coach of the Colts. He was hired by the Bears on Jan. 11, 2019, to replace decorated defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who left to become head coach of the Denver Broncos.
“After 36 years of coaching the game I love, I have decided to retire from the National Football League,” Pagano said in a statement released by the Bears. “I’d like to sincerely thank the McCaskey family, Ted Phillips, Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy for the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing organization. Also, many thanks to the Irsay family and the Colts organization. I am forever grateful to that community and to the support they have always given me both on and off the field. I’d also like to thank all the coaches, players and staff throughout my career. Thank you will never be enough to express my gratitude.
“As much as I love coaching, it takes a lot of time away from your family and loved ones. I’m excited to start this new chapter of my life and can’t wait to be able to spend more time with my family. This has been an amazing ride and I have made countless relationships that I will cherish forever.”
In Pagano’s first season, the Bears’ defense led the NFC in points allowed per game (18.6) and ranked second in the conference in net yards per game (324.1).
Chicago’s defense again appeared to be the club’s strength in the early parts of the 2020 season, but the group’s performance leveled off as the year wore on. Chicago ended the regular season 15th in run defense and 11th versus the pass as the Bears backed into the playoffs in Week 17.
In six seasons as head coach of the Colts, Pagano went 53-43 in the regular season and 3-3 in the playoffs.