While the Chicago Bears are mired in mediocrity and dysfunction, general manager Ryan Pace stays silent. His silence cannot hide the fact that he has a hand in this.
The once-proud Chicago Bears are mired in mediocrity and dysfunction. They became the butt of jokes around the league. While all the negativity continues to increase, the team’s owners sit idly by and let it happen.
In the middle of the storm is head coach Matt Nagy. In his nearly four years in Chicago, he failed to turn the offense into a good unit. Under his leadership, it ranked at or near the bottom nearly every season. Also, he failed to develop two young quarterbacks, first Mitchell Trubisky then Justin Fields.
Nagy’s seat is certainly scorching hot. It is all but decided that the Bears fire him at some point. The only discussion is whether it happens before or after the season ends.
While most of the fans’ ire is set on Nagy, not as much vitriol has gone towards general manager Ryan Pace. Yes, there are also people who want him out as well, but the calls for his dismissal aren’t as loud as they are for Nagy.
Through it all, Pace hasn’t spoken much. By staying silent, he probably hopes that the spotlight on his failings isn’t as hot. If all the attention remains on Nagy, perhaps Pace could survive the purge.
Nagy’s case for saving his job is very difficult to make. He came in as an offensive guru and a quarterback whisperer. Neither of those things happened in nearly four seasons. Even in 2018, his first season, when the Bears finished 12-4, the offense ranked ninth in points. However, it received a boost from six defensive touchdowns. In terms of yards, the offense still finished 21st.
We all saw what happened with the quarterbacks. This is Fields’ first season so the Bears cannot risk having Nagy screw up more of the kid’s development.
Pace, on the other hand, has had some success. Yes, he’s been hit or miss in the first round, and he gave away a lot of early-round picks. He has, however, brought in some talent. Take a look at the class of 2020. The Bears had only seven picks and none in the first round. Pace was able to find five contributors and four starters. He drafted Cole Kmet, Jaylon Johnson, Kindle Vidlor, Darnell Mooney, and Trevis Gipson. All five will be key contributors in the future. Yes, Vildor struggled this season. A big part of the reason is that he is out of position. He is on the outside where he is mismatched. He is better as a slot cornerback, a position he played well in his rookie season.
To be able to find one or two starters is a good thing. To find at least four of them in one draft is extraordinary.
Additionally, the team this season is stronger than the team Pace inherited. In fact, a recent report had the Chicago Bears head coaching position as one of the most attractive jobs if available. This is what CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones wrote recently concerning the Bears’ head coach job.
With more than a month left in the regular season, the Bears job — either one of them — seems like it’ll be the best one on the market. That’s the overwhelming response I’ve gotten from sources around the league and coaches and personnel execs gear up for a new hiring/firing cycle.
If Pace has a coach who can use the players properly and develop Fields, this team has some good assets. Add to it the fact that there are about 31 potential free agents on the team, and this will be a completely different roster next season. They could be an instant contender next season. With a strong core, the McCaskeys could give Pace the chance to put it together.
Pace made his mistakes as well. Let’s talk about the offensive line. While he continues to look for receivers, running backs, tight ends, and defensive players, Pace continues to ignore the offensive line. He continually looked to find diamonds in the sixth and seventh rounds. As a result, the line is very weak.
To be fair, Pace has started to look at higher picks for the line. He has Cody Whitehair and James Daniels, two starters, in the second round. Also, he drafted Teven Jenkins in the second round as well.
Even the Jenkins pick has trouble. Jenkins had a back problem that has wiped out his rookie season so far. He had surgery and the team placed him on injured reserve. The coaches have until December 6th to activate him or lose him for the rest of the season. Apparently, Pace knew of Jenkins’ condition and drafted him anyway. He was graded as a first-round pick, but with the back problem, many teams shied away from him.
Then we have Pace’s penchant for over-drafting players. He used the second overall pick on Trubisky. He did that despite Trubisky only having a handful of starts in his college career.
Pace also drafted Adam Shaheen in the second round. Shaheen was a relatively unknown tight end from Ashland. He dominated there, but it was a Division II school so the competition wasn’t stellar.
There is also a long list of receivers who made little to no impact.
Under Pace since 2015, the Bears have had just one winning season. Yes, he gave Nagy some good players to work with and Nagy failed, but Pace brought in Nagy. When he arrived in Chicago, he had John Fox, an old-school coach. The two just didn’t mesh. Having two new-school personalities would bring the Chicago Bears into the 21st century. That didn’t happen, however. That is at least partially on Pace.
Despite Pace’s silence, the McCaskeys will take a long look at him. There is a good case both for firing and keeping him. If the Bears fire him, there are many fans who wouldn’t be unhappy. The same can be said if the Bears keep him. While Nagy’s exit is almost a sure thing, Pace’s fate is still hanging in the air. His silence shouldn’t make him feel safe, though.