Ryan Pace and Ted Phillips spoke at Halas Hall yesterday in their first press conference following the dismissal of head coach John Fox. Phillips spoke very briefly of Ryan Pace, announcing a 2-year contract extension through 2021. However, everyone was watching to see what the team’s head man, Pace, had to say.
While Pace specifically didn’t give any insight into the coaching search, Pace did drop some hints as to the process of the impending hire. Following 2015’s fiasco involving Ernie Accorsi, Pace reiterated time and time again that he will have the final call on the new head coach.
That being said, he didn’t shy away from saying he will be taking input from others. Pace specifically namedropped team president Ted Phillips, chairman George McCaskey, and quarterback Mitchell Trubisky as guys he will collaborate with on the decision. He made sure to emphasize the term “collaborative effort”, but also ensured fans on multiple occasions that the hire was his call.
Pace refused to go into any specifics regarding the coaching search at all. He was asked about pursuing defensive-minded coaches, college coaches, and specific offensive names. However, he had a very similar answer to all the questions: the Bears are not limiting their options. Pace expectedly refused to confirm approaches to Philadelphia’s John DeFilippo and Carolina’s Steve Wilks.
The only semblance of information that Pace gave regarding the coaching search is that previous head coaching experience will not be a major factor. It is worth noting, however, that the Bears have reportedly requested an interview with two such candidates.
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Pace also made sure to specify that the new head coach will not have control over the 53-man roster. This impacts one name in particular, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who was rumored to want that control. There is no indication that any other candidate will request that control as of now.
Pace’s contract extension, which ensures he will be under contract until 2021, means a ton when it comes to the coaching search. It’s long been rumored that the new coach will have a contract coinciding with Pace’s. Now, that contract will be four years, which is no longer a deterrent to a new coach like a two-year deal would have been.
Perhaps the most intriguing takeaway from Pace’s presser, however, is his downplaying of the role Vic Fangio had with the team. Fangio’s contract is reportedly up, and he is free to talk with any team, including the Green Bay Packers.
When asked about Fangio’s impact on the team, Pace was clear to specifically mention that a lot of the credit for the defensive revolution went to John Fox. He seemed to make it a goal to downplay Fangio’s credentials as a defensive coordinator and promote the credentials of Fox.
This may just be to try and prevent the Packers from grabbing Fangio, but no one is certain. Either way, that was the biggest takeaway from Pace’s press conference. Since there was no real talk of the coaching search, this was the biggest look-in that fans got to the new coaching staff.