It started on New Year’s Day with the dismissal of Chicago Bears ex-head coach John Fox and continued with the announcement that Matt “QB Guru” Nagy would serve as the new leader of the team: pressure. Some of the pressure will be felt by Bears Chairman George McCaskey, as the team has failed to find a successful head coach since Lovie Smith. A little more pressure will fall on team president Ted Phillips, as fans are already questioning why he was involved in the coaching search process to being with. Even more pressure will follow general manager Ryan Pace into his fourth year. Pace needs Nagy to prove to be a smart choice while improving his own free agent signings and draft picks during this critical offseason. John Fox proved to be a mistake. Free agent quarterback Mike Glennon was a miscalculation. Pace knows he needs to be better.
The Bears are crossing their fingers that Vic Fangio’s head-coaching interview last week appeased the decorated defensive coordinator enough to stick around and join Nagy’s staff, but if not, the Bears will still run a version of the 3-4. The Bears have to address cornerback and outside linebacker in the draft/free agency, but they won’t overhaul the defense. Fangio and his defensive assistants laid the groundwork for future success on that side of the ball.
There will be plenty of stress and duress flowing through the halls of Halas Hall this offseason, but absolutely no one will feel the brunt of the decisions made in the last two weeks than second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Pace has gone “all in” on Trubisky, making every decision necessary to surround his young play caller with the tools and resources needed to be successful. Offensive minded coach? Check. Mentors to improve his footwork and motion? Check. Better receivers through free agency and the draft? Soon to be checked.
“I feel good about [my rookie year],” Trubisky said following the Fox announcement. “Just go back to two words — growth and development. Try to get better every day. I had a lot of fun. It’s awesome to come to this organization. You really don’t know what to expect coming in your rookie season. But I appreciate all my teammates for their hard work and dedication — just allowing me to be part of this team and kind of develop into a leadership role. I’ve had a lot of fun. I’ve learned a lot. And I love playing this game. And I’m glad I get to do it here in Chicago.”
Trubisky knows that the “Mike Glennon Experience” is now over and any honeymoon period that a rookie quarterback enjoys is coming to a close. With every move that Pace makes, it only solidifies Trubisky as the most pressurized athlete in Chicago. Every chip has been played with the expectation that Mitch isn’t only going to be serviceable. He is going to be what Jay Cutler couldn’t: a Super Bowl caliber quarterback. Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff made the jump from his rookie year to leading his team to the playoffs. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was in MVP discussion until he got injured. The same is now expected of the Bears offensive leader.
“I’m always motivated to get better,” Trubisky said. “I expect to make a big jump from Year 1 to Year 2. The experience I’ve got this year, I’m definitely going to carry that with me into the offseason, going into next year, and expect to have a lot of momentum and just a full head of steam going into next year.”
You had better, young man. A city turns its nervous eyes to you.