Bears and Vikings fire coaches and GMs, leaving Packers' Matt LaFleur as longest-tenured coach in NFC North

JR Radcliffe
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
View Comments
Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy shakes hands with Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur after an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won 21-13. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

Black Monday came for the NFC North, leaving Matt LaFleur as the dean of the division's coaches.

Though he has completed just his third season at the helm (and put together a campaign worthy of NFL Coach of the Year), LaFleur is now the longest-tenured coach in the division after the Minnesota Vikings fired Mike Zimmer and the Chicago Bears axed Matt Nagy on Monday.

That's not all; the Packers' rivals also fired general managers Ryan Pace (Chicago) and Rick Spielman (Minnesota).

Nagy spent four seasons in Chicago and was the NFL Coach of the Year, awarded by the Associated Press, after his rookie season in 2018. Zimmer just completed his eighth season as head coach with the Vikings. The two squared off against each other to close the regular season Sunday, with Minnesota improving to 8-9 overall and Chicago falling to 6-11 in the 31-17 Vikings win.

The Packers have won three straight NFC North crowns under LaFleur.

Zimmer led the Vikings to division titles in 2015 and 2017, falling in the NFC title game in 2017 in a blowout loss to Philadelphia. The Vikings had a 2-3 playoff record under Zimmer.

Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer walks off the field after an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Minneapolis. The Vikings won 31-17. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Nagy's teams qualified for the playoffs in 2018 (winning the division tile) and last season but lost playoff openers both times. The Bears have not won a playoff game since 2010.

LaFleur, meanwhile, has posted 13 wins in each of his first three regular seasons, the first rookie coach to do so. Even after Sunday's loss, his 39-10 record gives him a winning percentage of .796, the highest of anyone in NFL history who has coached as many games as LaFleur. Guy Chamberlain had a .784 mark over 81 games from 1922-27, and he's second on the list, just ahead of John Madden (.759 in 142 games). Vince Lombardi is next at .738 over 136.

Silverstein:Matt LaFleur left with plenty to ponder after Packers' loss to lowly Detroit Lions

Dougherty:Packers have to feel better about health for playoff push

The rebuilding Lions coach Dan Campbell just completed his first year in the role.

Spielman has been general manager of the Vikings since 2012. Six of the seven first-round picks in his first three drafts went to Pro Bowls. Though Kenosha native Trae Waynes, the team's first-round pick in 2015, wasn't able to become a difference maker, Minnesota selected Pro Bowlers in the second and third round of the same draft. Success has been much harder to come by in the intervening years — the 2020 pick of star receiver Justin Jefferson notwithstanding — and the decision to sign quarterback Kirk Cousins to a monster deal in 2018 has not translated to sustained success.

Pace has been the general manager of the Bears since 2015, and his tenure will likely be inextricable with the investment in quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, for whom the Bears traded up to attain in the 2017 draft. Granted, Trubisky was selected to a Pro Bowl and the 49ers didn't maximize the value of the many picks they received from the Bears, but it's not a tenure remembered fondly in Chicago. The Bears have had only one above-.500 season since 2012.

LaFleur will look to lead his team to its third straight conference final with a divisional-round playoff game Jan. 22 or 23 after the Packers' first-round bye.

JR Radcliffe can be reached at (262) 361-9141 or jradcliffe@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JRRadcliffe.

View Comments