By Chris Emma—
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) — Bears general manager Ryan Pace watched closely from a hotel room as the Chiefs collapsed in a 22-21 loss to the Titans in the wild-card round on Saturday.
The Chiefs had a 21-3 halftime lead before unraveling, with their play-calling among the greatest downfalls. Pace admitted it brought him “mixed emotions” watching Kansas City collapse and see its playoff hopes die. After all, it was Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy, whom Pace would interview the next morning, who was largely responsible for what happened.
Nagy eased those concerns for Pace during their meeting in Kansas City on Sunday morning, taking full responsibility for the play-calling miscues and explaining how he will become a better coach from it. Nagy echoed that as he was introduced at Halas Hall on Tuesday afternoon as the 16th head coach in Bears’ history.
“I called every single play in the second half,” Nagy said, absolving mentor Andy Reid of the blame. “That there was a learning situation for me. I’ve gone back, I’ve looked at it. There are scenarios where I wish I would’ve made some different choices with the play call. But for me, that was a failure in my book for me. I’ll grow from it, and I’ll learn from it, I promise you that. I’ll use that as a strength here for me with the Chicago Bears.
“I felt terrible for our team, for our organization, that put in a lot of good work. You lose a player like (Travis) Kelce, you got to adapt. I know that our offense and our offensive staff supports me. Coach Reid supports me. But I called every play in that second half. I stand by it, and I promise I’m going to learn from it.”
So much changed for the Chiefs after Kelce suffered a concussion during the second quarter. From there, the offense went stagnant and couldn’t sustain drives, and star running back Kareem Hunt had just 11 carries in the game. The door was left open for the Titans, who rallied back with 19 points in the second half to stun the Chiefs.
The Bears’ brass reached out to Nagy’s agent, Trace Armstrong, and offered to push back the interview so he could refocus after the loss. Nagy instead moved the interview earlier Sunday morning.
“One of the things I love about Matt is his humility and willingness to come in and talk about that moment like he did with guys,” Pace said. “He owned it. ‘Hey, guys, this is what happened, I was calling the plays, this is what I learned from that moment, and this is what I’m going to do better going forward.’ I think that says a lot about him as a person.”
The Bears and Nagy began an extensive interview process at a Kansas City hotel that lasted four-and-a-half hours. Pace, Nagy and their wives met for dinner later that night and began a football marriage with the Bears.