Ryan Pace made plenty of mistakes that resulted in the Chicago Bears going from an up-and-coming contender to rebuilding in three years. Most will pinpoint his misguiding drafting of Mitch Trubisky and the hiring of Matt Nagy as head coach as the decisive turning points. That is entirely fair. Yet people might not be talking enough about how egregiously he mismanaged the team’s offensive line during the second half of his tenure.
Former offensive lineman Ross Tucker took his opportunity to bring that to light during his recent interview on Parkins & Spiegel for 670 The Score. Tucker hasn’t been shy in sharing his opinion of the Bears’ offensive line. He thinks it is one of the worst in the NFL this year and will need time to recover. Much blame must be directed at Pace for his baffling decisions over the past few years. None more so than the double move of cutting Charles Leno Jr. and trying to replace him with Teven Jenkins.
Ryan Pace never paid enough attention to the O-line.
The criticism is warranted. Cutting Leno for cap space was necessary due to the cap drop from 2020. Yet it is amazing to think Pace’s best solution to the problem was drafting a college right tackle to fill that void despite knowing he was coming into the NFL with an injured back. Then when Jenkins injured it again, the team was forced to lure Jason Peters out of retirement to mitigate the damage. The Bears ended up surrendering 58 sacks last year.
In truth, this disaster was a long time coming. During his GM tenure, Ryan Pace showed a concerning lack of interest in the offensive line. Across seven total drafts he conducted from 2015 to 2021, he selected eight offensive linemen. None of them were 1st rounders, and half of them came in the 5th round or later. It should never have been a surprise the Bears ended up struggling in the trenches during most of that run.
Now Ryan Poles is left trying to pick up the pieces. He grabbed four offensive linemen in the 2022 draft. Hopefully, two of them can become decent contributors. Don’t expect the moves to stop there. Poles is a former offensive lineman himself. He will devote far more resources to the position than Pace ever did. Maybe then Justin Fields can become the player he should be.