Ryan Pace, the hibernating Bear, finally came out of his den Wednesday. He had spent the entire season ducking the media, which is really too bad. He’s such an aw-shucks, golly-gee kind of guy that, when he does talk publicly, it almost makes you want to believe some of the earnest, consensus-building nonsense that comes out of his mouth.
If the news conference featuring the Bears general manager and coach John Fox had been any more touchy-feely, it would have been a massage parlor. Boy, did the pair toss around a lot of bouquets about what was, if I’m not mistaken, a 3-13 season.
Let’s go through some of the comments they made at Halas Hall on Wednesday and see if we can tease out any deeper meaning. Unless otherwise noted, the answers are Pace’s, and they are not listed in the order they were spoken.
— “The relationship with ownership and (president Ted Phillips) and the whole building – and our offices are all side by side by side — I think if there’s one thing a season like this can do, it actually can bring you closer.’’
What Pace describes here is the definition of a bunker. Pass the canned beans and let’s sing some morale-boosting songs. And pay no attention to the warhead the Buccaneers dropped on us when we were at the peak of our health.
— “We’re not going to sit here and hide behind our youth and our injuries.’’
Oh, no, not at all.
— “We had a lot of guys in and out of the lineup, and I can go through them all.’’
That’s more like it.
— “We had the most starts among rookies and second-year players. That’s a lot of youth in the team.’’
At this point, I expected Pace to pull out a knee brace and a baby rattle for a nice visual.
— “There has been significant change to our roster since we arrived here. Only 19 players on the team are from the previous regime.’’
This would probably be a good time to point out that one of those players is Jay frickin’ Cutler.
— “I understand the importance of (the quarterback) position, the magnitude of that position.’’
If you truly understood the importance of having a good quarterback, Ryan, you would have, I don’t know, drafted one in the two years you’ve been here.
— “I met with probably 30 players and one of them was Jay, and there’s a lot of real candid conversations that take place and a lot of transparency and honesty. Some of those of things, I’d like to keep between us.’’
Transparency and honesty aside, he gone!
— “The one thing about Jay, he’s almost a freak in regards to recovering from injuries fast.’’
That’s for you, Every Team in the League Looking to Trade for a Quarterback.
— “There’s a genuine excitement about this locker room, a kind of closeness (to) this team.’’
Asking self if it matters that players on a 3-13 team are friends. Self, without a moment’s hesitation: No.
— “That’s a good question.’’
Every time Pace said this in response to a reporter’s query Wednesday, and he said it a lot, he meant, “Thanks for not asking about my job status again.’’
— “The PED things are obviously a real sensitive subject, and unfortunately we had two of them this year, and both of them surprised us.’’
Translation: How dumb do you have to be to get caught?
— “We are never going to be in this position again.’’
Meaning that the team is going to be better next season? Or that you’re going to be working somewhere else at this time next year?
— “I get there’s a lot of skepticism. We won three games. But I’m here to tell you that we’re going to work hard this offseason.’’
How about working less and learning more about finding a franchise quarterback?
— “My message to Bears fans is simple: We’re going to get better. We will improve. I hear you.’’
If you did, you wouldn’t have started the season with Cutler.
— “We’ve got the best fans in the league,’’ Fox said.
When all else fails, pander to the faithful. Nicely done.
— “I get we’re all judged on wins and losses. I am, John is, the whole building is.’’
The Bears have gone 9-23 under this regime, so whatever anybody is being judged on, it’s clearly not wins and losses. At this point, I’m open to the possibility that Pace and Fox are still here because of the firmness of their handshakes or the parts in their hair.
— “The buck stops here,’’ Fox said.
At Halas Hall, the buck only stops when it reaches the coffers.