LAKE FOREST – Their interviews were scheduled the day before at 9 AM, and one might have seen the situation that was about to happen.
With the Bears likely to fire Matt Nagy at the very least, the players were going to be the first in the organization to publically react to the news. Indeed that was the case as the Bears announced that the head coach along with general manager Ryan Pace were fired right around 9 AM.
So the players were the ones who reacted to getting the news first in the organization, and for some it was a bit emotional. Running back David Montgomery was a player whom Pace traded up to get in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, so the moves hit a little hard.
“Coming out of the draft, I’m getting passed up by a lot of teams,” said Montgomery. “Pace and Nagy, they took a chance on me. They took a chance on a poor kid from Cincinnati who people looked at is if he wouldn’t be good enough to get a chance to play. That’s why it’s emotional for me, because they stuck their neck out on the line for me, and I appreciate that.”
James Daniels was a Bears’ second round pick in 2018 out of Iowa and played every year under Nagy in the NFL, so his feelings were similar to those of Montgomery when he spoke on Monday.
“It’s very unfortunate,” said Daniels, who has been a starting guard for most of his Bears’ career. “Coach Nagy and Ryan, they were the ones who called me right when I got drafted here. To see them go; we’ve built such a great relationship over the past four years. It’s sad to see them go.
“But I know it’s part of the NFL, it’s part of the game.”
Beyond the emotion of losing the people who brought them to the Bears, the players will have to adjust to a number of new coaches for the 2022 season. Typically the change of a coaching staff only leaves a few of the previous assistants behind, so a new voice will be leading the way for the players both at the top and in their positions.
The transition is something new for Jaylon Johnson as he looks ahead to his third season with the team as he continues to establish himself as one of the best young cornerbacks in the league.
“I haven’t really experienced too many head coaches,” said Johnson. “For me, at the end of the day, we all want to win, so as long as he has a winning culture, we come in here, we wanna win and change the culture of the organization and just move forward in the best direction, I would appreciate that.”
So that way days like Monday can be avoided in the future.