Not only does the Bears’ arrow seem to be pointing up after the team’s recent free agent investments, but GM Ryan Pace also seems to really get the trends of the modern NFL.
Albert Breer of SI.com’s The MMQB catches up with the Bears’ general manager and discusses the team’s plan to create a winning environment for quarterback Mitch Trubisky. MMQB pieces are often intriguing, so you’ll want to give this a full read beyond the Bears-related happenings whenever you get a chance.
For today’s purposes, let’s keep it simple. The NFL is a quarterback-driven league and it’s not changing any time soon. Finding that special signal caller, building him up, and surrounding him with talent is more important now than ever before, and it’s definitely what all the cool kids are doing.
With that in mind, Breer asked the Bears’ GM whether it was too simplistic to suggest 2017’s goal was to find the quarterback of the future, while the follow up in 2018 has been to focus on building around that player.
Pace offered up quite the straight-forward answer: “No, that’s accurate. The hardest piece of this whole thing is to find the quarterback. We feel like we’ve done that. And so now, it’s surrounding your most important asset, your quarterback, with weapons so he can be successful and they can grow and develop chemistry together. And not just the quarterback and those players, but all of them and the new offensive staff. And they’re all young.”
Welcome to the new normal where over-investing at quarterback is followed by over-investing around him.
Hey, it certainly worked for the Los Angeles Rams with Jared Goff, as well as the Philadelphia Eagles with Carson Wentz.
Pace and the Bears are just the latest to follow this trend. The Bears GM certainly put his money where his mouth is with what the team paid in guarantees to Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, and Trey Burton and they’re not alone in this effort, not by a longshot.
Fore two more examples, Breer notes the financial investments made by the 49ers and Vikings, respectively, for Jimmy Garoppolo and Kirk Cousins. He also highlighted the Chiefs shelling out major paper for receiver Sammy Watkins to be a target for first-year starter Patrick Mahomes. The Texans bulked up their offensive line with interior linemen Senio Kelemete and Zach Fulton in order to protect Deshaun Watson, and the list goes on.
And one year after three teams (the Bears included) moved up in the first round to draft a quarterback, the New York Jets paid a premium higher than what the Bears paid in 2017 to move from No. 6 to No. 3.
Beyond roster-building, Pace also discussed the value in finding the right coach for his quarterback. He mentions the value in pairing the head coach as a play-caller and quarterback as a leader and provides some perspective, too: “A lot of times, if you have a successful play-caller, well, he’s gonna get plucked out of there to become a head coach elsewhere and then you break up the continuity between him and the quarterback,” Pace explained. “That’ll never happen here. So that’s the attractiveness of it.”
Pace discusses learning from the past. Certainly, he’s done that because that exact scenario unfolded after Pace’s first season with the team as offensive coordinator Adam Gase parlayed what might have been Jay Cutler’s best year with the team into ahead coaching gig with Miami. His departure set the Bears offense back as they were never able to get it going under Dowell Loggains.
In hindsight, it looks like Pace read the coach-quarterback market accurately and jumped at it just in time. And perhaps with some more wise moves, the Bears could find a way to follow in the footsteps of the Rams and Eagles in 2018. At least, that seems to be the plan.