Bears Rumors

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 12/1/21

Today’s taxi squad moves:

Baltimore Ravens

Chicago Bears

Detroit Lions

New England Patriots

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Washington To Sign K Brian Johnson

The Washington Football Team is moving on to its fourth kicker of the season. In the wake of Joey Slye‘s injury, Washington has agreed to sign kicker Brian Johnson off the Bears’ practice squad (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero).

[RELATED: Washington K Joey Slye To Miss Time]

Johnson, a Virginia Tech alum, actually succeeded Slye as the Hokies’ kicker. He kept that job from 2018 through 2020 and sank 20 of his 26 field goals as a senior. After graduation, he hooked on with the Bears’ taxi squad, before being plucked by the Saints in October.

Johnson went on to make all eight of his field goals across four games. Unfortunately, he also bricked three point-after attempts across his last two games in New Orleans, including a pair that cost them a win over the Titans. The Saints moved on to Brett Maher, but Johnson will have a chance at redemption in D.C. He’ll try to match Slye’s mostly solid work in Washington — 6-of-6 on FGs with only one missed/blocked XP.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears HC Matt Nagy Unlikely To Be Fired Mid-Season, Still On Hot Seat

Matt Nagy‘s job appears to be safe — for now. The Bears are unlikely to fire their head coach before the end of the season, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link). 

[RELATED: Bears’ George McCaskey On Nagy Rumors]

Rumors of Nagy’s imminent firing were rampant last week, with one report suggesting that he would be dismissed after the Thanksgiving Day game against the Lions. For his part, Nagy says such talk “is not accurate,” though he canceled the Bears’ scheduled meetings Tuesday afternoon. And, as of Tuesday, Nagy said he had yet to speak with owner George McCaskey, team president Ted Phillips, or GM Ryan Pace about his status.

We all have our own decisions as to how we do things, and I think this whole entire time, for me and for ownership, we’ve had great communication,” said Nagy when asked about the recent lack of clarity from the Bears’ top brass. “[We’re] focused on Detroit. That’s what it is.”

On Wednesday, McCaskey told players and coaches that Nagy would not get a pink slip for Thanksgiving. Still, barring a total 180, it’d be a surprise to see him return in 2022. Indeed, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports hears that change could be inevitable.

Around this time last year, we were hearing that it was more likely than not that Nagy would be fired at the end of the 2020 campaign. While ownership ultimately elected to give its HC one more chance to right the ship, the Bears’ struggles this season are probably too much for him to overcome.

The good news for Chicago is that many offensive-minded coaches view rookie QB Justin Fields as a quality passer that they can build around. So the club, which is expected to consider popular candidates like Tampa Bay OC Byron Leftwich, New England OC Josh McDaniels, and Buffalo OC Brian Daboll, might be able to land its top target. However, Northwestern HC Pat Fitzgerald, whom the Bears have coveted for some time, remains uninterested in the post.

Meanwhile, although we recently heard that Pace might not be fired at season’s end, La Canfora notes that his status is very much up in the air as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/26/21

Here are the latest minor moves from around the NFL:

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

Los Angeles Chargers

Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants

Nagy: Justin Fields To Start When Healthy

With Matt Nagy still running the Bears, he will continue to center his offense around Justin Fields. This comes days after the fourth-year HC did not answer a question regarding Fields’ status as Chicago’s QB1 when healthy.

Although Andy Dalton played well in relief of Fields against the Ravens and topped 300 yards against the Lions in Thursday’s narrow win, the Bears will go back to Fields — when he recovers from his rib injury.

[RELATED: Bears Unlikely To Fire Nagy During Season]

Though Nagy confirmed Friday that Fields will replace Dalton and be the Bears’ starter for the rest of the season, when he is able, the rookie quarterback is dealing with cracked ribs. It is unclear when Fields will return, but the rib trouble is not believed to be especially serious. Still, it would certainly make sense if Chicago was cautious with its first-round pick.

The Fields-Nagy-Bill Lazor partnership has not gone too well, with the rookie struggling and ranking last (among qualified quarterbacks) in Total QBR. The Ohio State product has completed 58% of his passes and holds a 4-to-8 TD-INT ratio. The Bears rank 29th in scoring offense and 31st in total yards, increasing the temperature on Nagy’s hot seat.

During his most recent full-game performance, however, Fields averaged 10 yards per attempt and totaled seven 15-plus-yard completions — tied for the most by a Bears quarterback in the past 15 years. While Fields was less effective against the Ravens in Week 11, the 4-7 Bears plan to give their prized prospect more work down the stretch.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears Chairman Pushes Back Against Matt Nagy Firing Report

The Bears have never fired a coach in-season, and chairman George McCaskey is the latest to offer pushback on a report suggesting such a move was on tap.

In a meeting with players and coaches Wednesday, McCaskey said there is no truth to the report Matt Nagy will be fired after the team’s Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit, Dan Pompei of The Athletic tweets. This comes after a subsequent report indicated Nagy did not convey confidence about his rest-of-season status to the players.

[RELATED: Bears GM Ryan Pace Could Return In 2022]

While Nagy is undoubtedly on thin ice and almost certainly will not be back with the Bears next season, franchise precedent and the McCaskey comments point to the team keeping the fourth-year HC beyond Thanksgiving. A loss to the winless Lions, however, may change things for Bears ownership.

Losers of five straight for a second consecutive season, the Bears are 3-7 and again are having extensive issues on offense. They rank 31st in total offense, despite a two-pronged offseason effort to upgrade the quarterback position. Andy Dalton is set to start in place of an injured Justin Fields against the Lions. Among qualified QBs, Fields ranks last in QBR.

Nagy handed off play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor for a second straight season, but the pivot has not been as effective this year. As far as possible interim options, special teams coordinator Chris Tabor has been an NFL staffer since 2008 — including two Bears stints. Ex-Browns HC Mike Pettine is the only other staffer with head coaching experience, though he arrived only this year and serves as a senior defensive assistant alongside first-year DC Sean Desai in Chicago.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/24/21

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves:

Chicago Bears

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Tennessee Titans

Bears GM Ryan Pace Could Return For 2022

Bears head coach Matt Nagy did his best to quash the speculation that tomorrow’s Thanksgiving game against the Lions would be his last on the Chicago sidelines, but there seems to be at least some fire to that smoke. Bears fans are doubtlessly wondering whether GM Ryan Pace, who was on the hot seat last year, might also be in his final days as a Bears employee.

However, league sources tell Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic that Pace could be retained for the 2022 season, which would mark his eighth year on the job. After all, there are currently three clubs — the Buccaneers, Cardinals, and Chargers — who have hired three head coaches under one GM, and all three of those teams have legitimate championship aspirations. Plus, Bears ownership generally places a high value on stability and thinks rather highly of Pace, which could give the team’s top exec one more bite at the apple.

Unfortunately for him, Pace’s tenure has been largely defined by the Mitchell Trubisky trade that has helped to undermine the Bears’ fortunes in the last few seasons. Pace’s decision to trade four draft picks to move up from the No. 3 overall selection in the 2017 draft to the No. 2 overall pick to acquire Trubisky — when players like Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes were still on the board — was widely panned at the time, and it has not aged well. Though Trubisky earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2018, his subsequent regression ultimately led him out of Chicago and took him to Buffalo, where he is presently serving as Josh Allen‘s backup.

Another black mark on Pace’s resume is the fact that the Bears have yet to win a playoff game in his time at the helm (they have only qualified for the playoffs twice since Pace was hired in 2015, and at 3-7, the 2021 postseason is a pipe dream). So while the blockbuster Khalil Mack trade in 2018 brought Chicago a terrific defensive player, the draft capital Pace surrendered to acquire him did not produce any hardware and cannot be considered a success.

Pace has certainly done some good things. He has a solid track record in the middle and late rounds of his drafts, and though the Trubisky selection was a major misstep, first-round rookie Justin Fields has given the Bears some hope that he can be the long-term answer at quarterback that the team has been seeking for so long. And, as Fishbain posits, the Chicago roster features a strong, young core.

Assuming Nagy is fired either later this week or at the end of the season, the next head coaching search will be geared towards finding a candidate that can help Fields to blossom, something Nagy could not do with Trubisky. The question is whether Pace will be around for that search.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Bears, Matt Nagy

The Lions fired their head coach after their Thanksgiving Day game last season. Are the Bears prepared to do the same this year? While Matt Nagy denied a report he will be relieved of his duties after Thursday’s Detroit trip, some interesting details have surfaced regarding the coach’s status.

Nagy canceled the Bears’ scheduled meetings for Tuesday afternoon and did not exactly reveal confidence he would be around much longer, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, and some players are miffed by the lack of direction displayed by the organization this week.

The Bears have lost five straight games for a second consecutive year. While they rallied back to make the playoffs after a six-game skid in 2020, helping Nagy save his job, the outlook is bleaker a year later.

Nagy told media Tuesday he had not met with Bears management this week but informed his players later that day he did, in fact, have a productive meeting with ownership, Biggs adds. Nagy is believed to have met with ownership after making those comments. However, the former Coach of the Year did not address his status with the team, which upset some players due to the uncertainty surrounding this situation. A short-week firing would certainly not be ideal, but word of a potential ouster getting out early does not present a stable picture, either.

Despite addressing their quarterback situation by adding Andy Dalton and Justin Fields, the Bears have regressed again on offense. They will enter Week 12 ranking 31st in total offense and 29th in points — down from 2020’s full-season perches. The 2019 Bears finished 29th in points and yards, injecting concern about their direction after a bounce-back 2018. “Fire Nagy” chants broke out at Soldier Field during Sunday’s loss to the Ravens.

The Bears have leaned against in-season firings, allowing their previous embattled coaches to finish their respective seasons. The franchise has never fired a coach during a season. But Nagy might well be the coach to break this tradition. Nagy has been given more time than the team gave Marc Trestman and John Fox, though the ex-Chiefs OC has led the Bears to two playoff berths — compared to his recent predecessors’ zero — since taking over in 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears’ Matt Nagy: Rumors Of Firing Are “Not Accurate”

Earlier today, former Chicago Sun-Times journalist Mark Konkol reported that Thanksgiving will mark Matt Nagy‘s final game as head coach (via Patch.com). For his part, Nagy says “that is not accurate,” (Twitter link via Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic). 

My focus is on these players and Detroit, and that’s it,” Nagy said (via ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert). “That’s my job as a head coach and a leader, is to do that. These players have been amazing. They’ve been great. You have this quick turnaround after a loss like [Sunday’s to the Ravens], and now here you go. The only thing we can do is focus on the now and do everything we can. Thursday is going to be here quickly.

Still, Nagy says that he has not received any assurances from owner George McCaskey or GM Ryan Pace this week. Left to fend off the rumors by himself, Nagy claims that he won’t be distracted by the speculation.

We all have our own decisions as to how we do things, and I think this whole entire time, for me and for ownership, we’ve had great communication..[We’re] focused on Detroit. That’s what it is,” said the head coach.

After dropping five straight, the Bears are 3-7 and en route to a lost season. It’s a sharp drop from Nagy’s first 12-4 season at the helm, or even his back-to-back 8-8 campaigns. Assuming no decision has been made yet, a win on Thursday could help cool down the hot seat. On that note, Nagy also confirmed that the Bears will start Andy Dalton while Justin Fields recovers from his rib injury.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.