The Bears and general manager Ryan Pace embarked on the mission of bringing in the third head coach in six years who wouldn’t only change the attitude of the team but also flip the record and breathe life to an organization and its fanbase that lost any hope of success, from the division basement to soaring in the sky.
Pace decided Matt Nagy was the man for the job seven days after firing John Fox. Most looked at this signing as Pace shooting before he saw the target. Comments like “It was too fast” or “He’s only called plays for 5 games” seemed easy to find on every sports site and Twitter feed. But instead of going traditional, Pace jumped before any other team made it to the ledge. He found his man, it didn’t need to take weeks.
In Matt Nagy’s first press conference he didn’t preach about things like going to the playoffs or beating Green Bay. In simple words, he said, “we’ve got work to do.” He didn’t sugarcoat it. He told the truth and it gave some fans confidence that Pace may have finally found the right guy for the job.
The optimism of Bears fans after the Nagy hiring was quickly forgotten and the remembrance of Pace’s 2017 free agency brought the pessimism and doubt right back in. Names like Mike Glennon, Markus Wheaton, and Marcus Cooper give all Bears fans that nasty feeling in the pit of their stomach. But instead of looking like the last place anyone would go, Nagy made it fun again. Allen Robinson erased any doubt that Pace wasn’t serious. He also brought in other high character guys like Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton while also resigning Prince Amukamara and matching Kyle Fuller and bringing in young studs through the draft like Roquan Smith, Anthony Miller, and James Daniels.
The day Bears fans never expected but won’t ever forget. The name Khalil Mack started floating around in Rams, 49ers, and Packers rumors and the idea of Pace making a move like that just didn’t fit his past work. And then, it happened. Pace locked onto his target once again and hit a bullseye right down the middle. Khalil Mack was traded to the Bears for two first round picks and later round pick swaps. And the winds started to shift and the light seemed brighter at the end of the tunnel.
It’s September 9th week 1. The smell of football weather and the anxious feelings of the start of the season is all too familiar. The overreaction of a win or defeat starts the same day as the season. One loss feels like ten, while one win feels like a playoff berth. And it started out as most Bears seasons do. But there was something different. Something just didn’t feel the same. Instead of getting blown out like the previous year when they lost to the Packers by a combined 28 points and a backup quarterback, they simply ran out of gas. They dominated for 3 quarters but let the game slip away in the final minutes. Some said “same old Bears” but most who watched knew this wasn’t the case.
Now fast forward to Week Fifteen and the Bears (9-4) are one win away from clinching the division and securing a playoff home game. But to do it they’ll have to prove they can beat a team who’s had their number for quite some time. Hopefully, we’ll be rejoicing a division title come Sunday afternoon but there’s definitely one thing that’s for sure. These aren’t your Daddy’s Bears.