George McCaskey Sets Winning Expectation For Bears In 2020

Bears general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy face pressure to win this season.
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(670 The Score) Bears chairman George McCaskey returned to Halas Hall this week, the building named after his grandfather George Halas.

McCaskey was looking to do his part with the Bears' health protocols by being one fewer person at the team's facility during the preseason, so he stayed away. But with Chicago's season opener at Detroit looming, McCaskey's full focus is back on the Bears in a pivotal season, and he had advice for coach Matt Nagy as it pertained to Sunday.

"Let's get up on them early and take the crowd out of the game," McCaskey joked, referring to the fan-less Ford Field.

During McCaskey's nine years as chairman, the Bears have failed to find a winning continuity. After winning the NFC North in 2018 and bringing back a talented roster, the team believed ahead of the 2019 season that a long run of success awaited it. But the Bears finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs, continuing a trend -- not since 2005 and 2006 has Chicago reached the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.

The Bears enter this new season looking to prove 2019 was the outlier. They added star pass rusher Robert Quinn to form a tandem with Khalil Mack on the edge and acquired veteran quarterback Nick Foles to compete with incumbent starter Mitchell Trubisky, who ultimately won the preseason competition.

McCaskey's hope is the Bears can bounce back and make a run in the playoffs.

"The goal every year is to win the Super Bowl," McCaskey said. "Two years ago, we made a great run (and) fell short. Last year, we regressed. So, we need to find out which team it is. Is it the team that took the NFL by storm two years ago or is it the team that fell back last year?"

McCaskey will be wondering that as he evaluates general manager Ryan Pace and Nagy throughout this season. Pace is under contract through the end of 2021. Nagy has one additional year than Pace, with his deal lasting through 2022.

McCaskey declined to discuss Pace's status with the Bears but offered one important criteria for his evaluation of the front office: winning.

"I mean, we all have the same goals and the same vision for this season," Pace said. "Last year was disappointing for all of us. That starts with me. That's hard to swallow. It's disappointing. There's a number of factors that went into that.

"I feel the full support from George and from (team president Ted Phillips), and our dialogue is constant. Our communication is constant. And I really appreciate that."

Pace has been the Bears' general manager since January 2015, when he took over an organization that was trending downward. The Bears went 14-34 during Pace's first three years in charge, but he was awarded a four-year contract extension while coach John Fox was fired after a disappointing 2017 campaign.

Pace and Nagy formed a union when Nagy was hired in January 2018 to replace Fox. But evaluations of Pace and Nagy could be conducted separately by McCaskey if the Bears fall short of playoff expectations once again in 2020.

McCaskey is feeling confident in the Bears entering the unique season. When it's time for kickoff Sunday, he will be seated inside Ford Field alongside his mother, 97-year-old team matriarch Virginia McCaskey.

They're hoping the Bears can start strong and finally sustain success.

"She's always eager to start the season," McCaskey said of his mother. "But to say that she's especially eager this season is an understatement.

"I'm sure she's looking forward to Sunday."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.