LAKE FOREST, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — If you’re a Bears fan who’s hoping for major changes for next season that’s not likely to happen. General Manager Ryan Pace indicated Tuesday morning during his end-of-the-season press conference that he still believes in this team, his quarterback and in his head coach.
Before training camp opened in July Pace mentioned during his opening press conference in Decatur that he was expecting to see incremental improvement in the Bears this season. Instead he saw the opposite.
“The word that comes to my mind this season is regression and why did we regress in so many areas?, said Pace Tuesday.
Pace seems to believe that the answers to that are mostly internal and that some time evaluating what went wrong this year will lead to some solutions. But he knows he has to be realistic about this team’s flaws.
“Our head’s not in the sand like, ‘Hey everything’s fine. We’re 8-8.’ Not at all. We never want this feeling in our guts ever again.”
At the same time Pace reminded the media that this core group of players is the same group that went 12-4 only a year ago.
Pace also gave Matt Nagy a vote of confidence.
“This season gives me even more confidence and conviction in him as our head coach for what we went through and how he handled it. So (I have) extreme confidence in him as our head coach. Extreme confidence in him as our play-caller.”
The elephant in the room of course was the topic of Mitch Trubisky. Will he be the Bears’ starting quarterback next year? Pace didn’t hedge on that at all. He came right out and said Trubisky will be the guy.
“Mitch is our starter and we believe in Mitch and we believe in this progress he’s going to continue to make.” “We’ve seen this before with young quarterbacks the trials and tribulations they go through. It’s part of it.”
Pace acknowledges Trubisky needs to become more consistent. Matt Nagy says Trubisky needs to trust the center of the pocket more, and Nagy wants Trubisky to be better at reading defenses.
“I want him to be a master at understanding converages.” “We really need to hammer through in this offseason here the amount of different coverages and different looks that you get from these different coordinators that are out there.”
As far as what quarterbacks will backup Trubisky and whom the Bears might pursue in free agency, Pace said it’s too early to say what they’ll do.
Pace also had positive things to say about Leonard Floyd, Khalil Mack and Tarik Cohen even though statistically their production was down this season.
On the injury front Pace revealed that Trey Burton recently underwent hip surgery, Roquan Smith had pec surgery and Anthony Miller will soon have surgery on his left shoulder. The goal is for all three of them to be ready to go when training camp opens before next season. Pace also said Trubisky might need surgery on his shoulder. That’s still being evaluated.
(Note: Shortly after the press conference Tuesday morning the Bears reportedly fired four assistant coaches primarily on the offensive side of the football. Gone are offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, tight ends coach Kevin Gilbride and special teams assistant Brock Olivo.