Thursday, May 16, 2024

Even Bears Employees Were Stunned Ryan Pace Wasn’t Fired In 2021


If you polled Chicago Bears fans after the 2020 season, most of them wouldn’t said they wanted GM Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy gone. Playoff appearance aside, it was obvious the team was trending in the wrong direction. Players had no discipline. There were ceaseless problems at quarterback. Nagy had already gutted his coaching staff once already with no effect. That division title in 2018 was a distant memory. A smart organization would recognize this and start fresh. George McCaskey disagreed, opting to keep the two in charge for another year.

Fans and media alike couldn’t believe it. Ownership was giving two guys clearly on the hot seat full control of team resources despite the roster showing signs of degradation. At a time when things called for caution and forward-thinking, Pace and Nagy threw more future resources away, desperately trying to fix the quarterback problem. Nobody knew it at the time, but it turns out even those inside Halas Hall were shocked the two men weren’t fired. Tyler Dunne of Go Long revealed this in a recent two-part article.

This made no sense to people on both sides of the equation — personnel and coaching.

“You don’t let the GM trade up to draft quarterback,” says one Bears source in those draft meetings. “You just don’t let him do it. You are asking to be stuck in quarterback purgatory. You know you’re going to fire him and you’re picking 11th. It’s not like we were picking the first quarterback in the draft. We were taking a swing on Mac Jones or Justin Fields. And there’s a really good chance that the next regime that comes in isn’t going to like him.”

If the plan was to draft a quarterback, one ex-Bears assistant coach adds, then fire the head coach or give him an extension. Give him a real chance to develop a project.

Instead, the Bears chose purgatory.

“The Bears are just so f–ked up,” this coach says.

Ryan Pace ended up setting the Bears back even further.

He’d already done that once when he drafted Mitch Trubisky over Patrick Mahomes in 2017, an all-time whiff at quarterback. Giving somebody like that another swing at the position is almost never a good idea. Justin Fields was an outstanding physical talent. Everybody knew that. However, his fall in the 1st round happened for a reason. Other teams had lingering concerns about him. The general theory was his somewhat slow processor when reading coverages. Some hoped more time and experience would help with that.

It didn’t.

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What made it worse was the support structure in place. Ryan Pace had never been great at finding offensive talent. His best additions since arriving in 2015 were Allen Robinson, Bobby Massie, Tarik Cohen, and David Montgomery. Two of those names were free agent signings, and the others were running backs. He routinely failed at drafting receivers and offensive linemen, which is not ideal for a young quarterback prone to holding the ball. Nobody should’ve been shocked when things went wrong.

The Bears had no business giving him another year. Doing so likely set them back another three or four years, as Ryan Poles had to come in and clean up his mess.


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May 16, 2024 6:23 am

. . .still waiting for that list of offensive “playmakers” Ryan Poles has drafted.

It better start with the names, Caleb and Rome — or AGM, Ian Cunningham may get a a very important meeting with Kevin Warren.

May 15, 2024 8:27 pm

@TGena Look who you are comparing PFF grades to… season vets… like kmet .. moore… J.Johnson…edwards …allen… they have tons of playing experience so you have to actually watch the game and see the improvements of the players and use the eye test… and what you see are very good players getting better….I notice you mentioned the Packers GM… seems you think he is a great GM… go look back at the draft he had in 2018 …Out of the 11 picks Gutekunst made that year, and that is tons of draft picks….only one, Alexander, is still with the Packers…… Read more »

Last edited 9 hours ago by jack60616
May 15, 2024 4:04 pm

@jack60616 — Velus Jones Jr., was a 2022, 3rd round pick (#75). His PFF overall grade last year was, 53.1 2022 2nd round: Jaquan Brisker, 66.7 Kyler Gordon, 65.6 2022 5th round: Braxton Jones, 68.8 The Bears’ 2023 draft picks include: 2023, 1st round Darnell Wright (selected at #9) listed as the #52 of 81 offensive tackles; 62.4 overall grade. 2023, 2nd round Gervon Dexter Jr. (selected #52) was ranked #100 of 131 IDs (interior defenders) and he earned a 50.9 overall grade. Tyrique Stevenson, 60.2 2023, 3rd round Zacch Pickens (selected #64) was ranked #85. of 131; and earned… Read more »

May 15, 2024 3:47 pm

@jmscooby — Spotrac says the 2021 Bears’ 53-man roster’s average age was 27.4 years; and the 2024 Bears, currently clock in at, 26.6 (87 players). Spotrac (5/15/24) But, what’s 8/10ths of a year among friends — right? Don’t look now, but Green Bay has two (count ’em 2!) of the best NFL O-line coaches in the last few decades: Luke Butkus (the late Dick Butkus’ nephew) and one of my all-time favorites, Adam Stenavich (currently GB’s OC). There’s a reason that the Packers are always solid in the trenches. By the way: who is “our OL” these days? I’d pay… Read more »

May 15, 2024 3:23 pm

Poles and Ian are from organizations that are used to picking in the back end of the draft. Poles has worked under 3 GMs, so he will adapt and improve. I’d put our OL against GB’s week 1. Pittsburgh killed the draft with their OL selections, but their weak link is your buddy, Daniels.

Big picture, our roster went from old to young, and our depth is better than we have had in decades. Health and execution from here on out.

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