The Chicago Bears have a .286 winning percentage since the start of the 2015 season. John Fox shoulders much of the public blame, as is the case for most head coaches in the NFL. It simply comes with the territory.
Not that he isn’t without blame, but GM Ryan Pace hasn’t taken the same kind of heat Fox has during their three-year tenure together.
Mulligan makes some fair points in an attempt to get to the bottom of the Bears’ current crisis. Pace’s free agent additions have left something to be desired. This isn’t to say defensive end Akiem Hicks, inside linebacker Danny Trevathan, and guard Josh Sitton haven’t been great. That trio has helped solidify their respective position groups and gave the Bears hope they would achieve something more than a repeat of 2016’s 3-13 season. Unfortunately, whiffs on quarterback Mike Glennon, safety Antrel Rolle, and the revolving door of under-performing receivers (Eddie Royal, Markus Wheaton, etc.) haven’t been short-term solutions or long-term answers.
All things considered, it’s fair to wonder if Pace and Fox should be judged as one entity – even though both have different priorities. Pace’s objective has been to think big picture, while Fox’s goal has been to win games with the talent handed to him from the front office.
And therein lies the rub.
Pace gets a bit more leeway, in part, because of the mess he inherited from Phil Emery. Of Emery’s three drafts, only four players (offensive lineman Kyle Long, left tackle Charles Leno Jr., cornerback Kyle Fuller, and punter Pat O’Donnell) remain on Pace’s roster. Further, Emery’s drafts produced more players who were out of the league (six) before the expiration of their four-year rookie contracts than Pro Bowlers (two).
Pace has also used his three drafts to land 10 players who started for the team in Week 11.
I like to think of the Bears’ rebuilding plan like a semi-truck making a right turn on a city street. It’s slow, laborious, and agonizingly painful to be behind when you’re stuck in traffic and everything else is moving swimmingly.
Pace found himself in a similar situation when arriving in Chicago. But instead of being saddled with a wide load moving through traffic, the Bears’ general manager was stuck trying to move through the NFC North with a burdensome roster left behind by his predecessor.
General managers who draft a first-round quarterbacks tend to get the benefit of the doubt until the juice is proven to not be worth the squeeze. Pace will be able to move past these errors in judgment under the rug if Mitch Trubisky lives up to being a quarterback worthy of the No. 2 overall selection. And if Trubisky doesn’t live up to the hype, Pace will likely follow in the footsteps of the general managers who failed before him.