After a slightly ominous start to his tenure, Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace has started to prove the doubters wrong.
To say that Chicago Bears‘ general manager Ryan Pace got off to an inauspicious start in that role would be an understatement. The honeymoon period didn’t seem to last very long for the Illinois native, as calls for his job seemed to start shortly after his second year in the position.
The calls for his job only got louder, reaching a crescendo at the end of last season. It’s fair to say that there wasn’t a lot for supporters of Pace to latch onto. After three years, the Bears record was a miserable 14-34. And to be honest, that was probably the best thing he had going for him.
Let’s recap some of his “misses.” While there is some debate over whether the decision to hire John Fox was solely his, he bore ultimate responsibility — though at the time, no one foresaw just how awful Fox would be.
He also got rid of Brandon Marshall, Martellus Bennett, Alshon Jeffrey, Robbie Gould, and Cameron Meredith. He brought in guys like Antrel Rolle, Mike Glennon, Eddie Royal, and Pernell McPhee. His band-aid approach to free agency in his first three years was puzzling.
Finally, his first round draft picks have come under much scrutiny. In his first year, he selected Kevin White No. 7 overall, passing up on Vic Beasley, Marcus Peters, and Todd Gurley. The following year, he traded up two spots to select Leonard Floyd No. 9 overall, who to date, hasn’t lived up to those lofty expectations.
However, nine games into season four and it appears Pace’s vision is finally coming to fruition. When Pace took over, Jay Cutler was in the second year of a seven-year contract, and the 2015 quarterback draft class was Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota — and that was it. Pace knew he needed a franchise quarterback, but knew he wouldn’t get one with the No. 7 pick in 2015.
Likewise, he knew he wouldn’t snag his guy in 2016 picking No. 9 since there weren’t many viable options beyond Carson Wentz and Jared Goff. Although some were ready to run Pace out of town for passing on Dak Prescott. Remember when Prescott was going to be the next big thing? Yeah, that was fun.
Without a clear path to drafting his guy, Pace filled roster needs with low rent players, recognizing the Bears were a few years away from competing — despite what he and the organization may have been saying publicly. However, what he did do during his first two drafts was select quality players in round two and later.
Eddie Goldman, Cody Whitehair, James Daniels, and Anthony Miller (2nd), Eddie Jackson and Tarik Cohen (4th), and Jordan Howard, Adrian Amos, and Bilal Nichols (5th) are all integral pieces to this team that were drafted after the first round.
So Pace bided his time and drafted well building up the roster so that the foundation was in place when he found his franchise quarterback.
Then, when the opportunity arose to do just that, he moved up with conviction to select Mitch Trubisky. Next, he went out and paired him with an innovative offensive-minded head coach in Matt Nagy. After that, he sprinkled in a few key free agents in Trey Burton, Taylor Gabriel, and Allen Robinson who have all been home runs this season.
Finally, he got Khalil Mack for what could amount to be a bag of peanuts by the time we sort out the relative value of the draft picks involved in the deal.
The result? A 6-3 record, first place in the NFC North, and a roster full of young, talented players under contract for the foreseeable future. So as he starts getting recognition and props as a potential Executive of the Year candidate, maybe it’s time for the “Pace Haters” to bend the knee and give him the credit he deserves.