Their trek started at Halas Hall with an interview of defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, included a harrowing flight to New England amid bad weather to meet with Josh McDaniels and ended in Kansas City when the plan and personality of Matt Nagy won them over.
Pace could sense the right characteristics in Nagy, then 39, that could lead the Bears forward to the potential he saw ahead. Sure enough, the Bears finished 12-4, won the NFC North and built a foundation in 2018 for the years to come.
"Every single day that we’ve been together is just confirmation that he is the perfect head coach for this franchise," Pace said of Nagy during their season-end press conference at Halas Hall on Monday. "And it’s just going to get better and better as we go forward. We work so well together. He’s very natural in this role. We’re very, very fortunate to have him as our head coach."
The Bears hired Nagy in part because of what he could mean for the development of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who had to hit the reset button in many respects this past season. Trubisky made progress in his first year with Nagy, finishing 289-of-434 for 3,223 yards, 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The Bears were 11-3 in his 14 regular-season starts.
Beyond that, the greatest impact Nagy brought to the Bears during his first season leading the team was in creating a culture that could be lasting. The young roster saw growth and drew closer with its new coach. Players often spoke of how Nagy made football fun.
It was one of many traits that Pace identified in Nagy last January and why he's so confident in what's to come.
"I know he says it all the time, but just how comfortable he is in his own skin," Pace said. "Just be yourself. Just be you. He has a blueprint from Andy Reid and he respects him, but Matt's just himself. I think the players feel that. The staff feels that. And if you do that every day, it comes off natural and organic, and I think it’s very attractive."