Speaking to the media for the first time since August, Bears general manager Ryan Pace addressed a number of key topics after the Bears concluded a 6-10 season. Here are a few of the highlights:
On right tackle Kyle Long: “He got better as the season progressed with his technique and hand placement. There’s growing pains when anybody switches to a new position. But we were proud of how he handled that and got through the season.”
On left tackle Charles Leno: “Leno was a real pleasant surprise; really exceeded expectations. He gained confidence and got better and better. He’s very athletic. He’s long. He’s got good balance. We’re going to closely evaluate every single player on the team. But we have positive vibes on him coming out of the season.”
On Brandon Marshall, who was traded to the Jets for a fifth-round draft pick (Adrian Amos) and had 109 receptions for 1,502 yards and 14 touchdowns: “We’re happy for him. And I’m happy with the guys we have here, too. I don’t regret any of those decisions. It’s always what’s in the best interests of the club at the time and that’s what we felt was best.”
On inside linebacker Shea McClellin: “I thought he did well in making that adjustment. He’s kind of moved all around throughout his career. I think he settled into a natural position for him. The things you like about him are his range, his size. He had to battle injuries, which we’ve got to evaluate and assess and we’ll talk about it going forward. But there are some positive things about him and I think you have to take into account that he’s still growing at that position.
Did you consider shutting down Pernell McPhee, who struggled with a knee injury in the second half of the season? “We talked about it. Credit to him. He battled through that. We leaned on our medical staff … we wouldn’t put anybody out there if they were doing additional harm. It was just something he had to fight through and he showed a lot of toughness in doing that. His production dropped off some, but I still think he was an asset for us.
On Kyle Fuller: “I thought he got better and better as the season went on and he gained confidence. I think he’ll get even better in this offseason. He really learned how to study his opponent and anticipate things better. That’s part of the growth process. But he’s an ascending player and we have a lot of confidence in him.”
On the defense getting only 17 takeaways this season, the fifth fewest in the NFL: “It comes down to adding playmakers all over the field on defense. John [Fox] and I talk about this all the time. We have to get better on third downs. We have to improve our pass rush. And I think that comes down to adding playmakers on defense.”