We have reached the point where we can no longer kick the can down the road: This dud’s on Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace. What has transpired over the past four weeks is beyond a singular issue traceable to one game. It is an indictment of what has gone into this team, a strange deduction considering the perceived turnaround in 2018.
Dennis Green tried to tell us long ago. The Bears, now amid a four-game losing streak, fell to 3-5 after losing to recent-nuisance Philadelphia Eagles 22-14. Talk of the offense taking the next step have been flat-out lies. The defense’s regression, at least in turnovers, has been real though and is one factor contributing to the outing of the offense as a farce.
This Dud’s on You, Ryan Pace
What Were They Doing?
The Bears ended the first half against Philly with nine yards of total offense. They once again failed to establish the run early, only attempting six first-half carries. Five of those carries came on first downs, one of which was off of a penalty, and two of their six first-half possessions didn’t feature any called runs.
It was always the expectation they would have to lean on quarterback Mitchell Trubisky to get a win, but it was also the expectation that he wouldn’t be able to deliver. The Eagles being stout against the run early shouldn’t have kept the attempts suppressed because the Bears only trailed 6-0 until just over six minutes were remaining in the half.
That deficit grew to 12-0 but the Bears got the ball back twice before even hitting the two-minute warning. Still, Trubisky struggling to move the ball on what was the 26th-ranked passing defense is just the latest example of how bad of a selection by Pace this was and brings to light the general manager’s questionable track record, 2018 obviously notwithstanding.
Chicago is 29-43 (including this season) under Pace with fourth-place finishes in three of the previous four campaigns. To many, the beginning of Pace’s tenure was a wash because he was saddled with John Fox who saw diminishing returns from the offense in each of his three seasons with the Bears.
Free agency is supposed to be a way to supplement the talent on your roster; filling in the cracks left from previous drafts. But when those free agents fail to make an impact then they are just sunk cost. There has been plenty of activity from Pace on the free-agent front but the results have been less mixed than uninspiring.
The hits are obvious; Akiem Hicks and Danny Trevathan have been great additions, for example. But there are too many instances like Eddie Royal and Antrel Rolle, or more recently Trey Burton. Granted Burton’s role has had to evolve from what it was first envisioned thanks to Adam Shaheen failing to develop at all.
That leads to the damning issue of how poorly Pace has drafted, namely in the first round. It is a subject that has been broached, albeit briefly, in this space before. But with how this team has performed thus far, it is worth mentioning that the Bears general manager is 1-4 in the first round at best and, at worst, has yet to hit.
Worse yet, they either passed on better prospects or reached to get who they ultimately selected. In 2015, he took wide receiver Kevin White over pass rusher Vic Beasley. In 2016 it was pass-rusher Leonard Floyd over tackles like Laremy Tunsil and Taylor Decker instead bringing in Bobby Massie in free agency. Do we even need to go over 2017?
The Bears were without their first-round pick in the most recent draft thanks to the Khalil Mack trade and will be again this season despite looking a top-10 pick right in the eyeballs. They will be reliant on Pace unearthing another late-round contributor; something he has done with 18 of his 24 picks after the opening round.
Pace’s coaching hires are getting scrutinized as the season wears on. Fox was scapegoated as only being in it for the golden parachute; a low-expectation situation only good for collecting a check. The two-time Super Bowl-appearing coach’s terse nature made that point of view credible. Unfortunately for Pace, his next coach is dealing with questions of his own.
Matt Nagy’s averseness to running the ball was evident when he was calling plays for the Kansas City Chiefs. But he had seemingly turned over a new leaf upon donning the burnt orange and blue. The Bears were sixth in rushing attempts and 11th in rushing yards last season. Good luck reconciling that with being 24th and 27th in those categories, respectively.
This after being fed that they had upgraded the run game. Shipping out Jordan Howard (who looks rejuvenated in Philly), signing Mike Davis (a seldom-used 2019 Pace free agent), and drafting David Montgomery in the third round has looked more like much ado about nothing as Nagy still refuses to commit to the run consistently without a lead.
This Dud’s on You, Ryan Pace
We are beyond breaking down what went right or wrong for the Bears after games. Losing streaks rightfully evoke skepticism towards tenuous situations and that is exactly what the Bears were coming into the season. The defense is still stout, but fewer turnovers have led to longer fields for an offense that was ninth in points scored but 21st in yards.
We see now that Trubisky is just the latest in a line of first-round whiffs by the current Bears regime. Nagy is having trouble countering after defenses have figured out his offense that he said takes several years to learn and still opts for the extravagant over the simple when calling plays.
It all traces back to the person who put all these pieces in place: Ryan Pace. He took over a barren cupboard of a team and has done well to litter the roster with talent. But the free-agency and draft misses have left this team vulnerable in critical areas, not the least of which being at quarterback. Now we must question if he should get a chance to correct it or if 2018 was a fluke.
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