General manager Ryan Pace vowed to “do a better job” in all areas after getting a two-year extension Monday. But there’s one that might be particularly problematic — injuries.
The Bears ended the season with 16 players on injured reserve after making a determined effort to avoid injuries after finishing 2016 with 19 players on IR.
“We did a lot to address it last year, whether [it be] schedule changes, tracking data, a lot of tweaks, but it wasn’t enough,” Pace said. “With parity in our league, injuries play a big factor in our results. It’s something we have to get on top of, and that’s my job.”
Pace said the organization will conduct studies to see which teams are the healthiest and which are not and if there are “commonalities” that can be used to help avoid another repeat of the injury issue in 2018.
“But we have to get that fixed because it’s affecting our results,” Pace said.
Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, who missed the last six games after spraining knee ligaments against the Lions at Soldier Field, is progressing well, Pace said. But it’s not known if he’ll be healthy enough to participate when the offseason program begins.
“By no means are we concerned about his recovery,” Pace said. “He’s been here almost every day, and I feel very positive on that track that he’s on.”
Floyd had 33 tackles, 4½ sacks and nine tackles for loss.
“I’m doing good,” Floyd said. “I’ve got a good rehab process planned out. I plan to stick to it and get back.”
Long road back
Pace was not quite as positive about Kyle Long’s recovery from neck surgery last month. He also has a shoulder issue.
“He’s kind of knocking those out one by one,” Pace said. “But we’re confident in the direction he’s headed. He’s already had the neck surgery, and we don’t see any long-term effects from that.”
John Fox’s assistants technically are still on board — generally a contractual formality until a new coach is hired.
“They’re under contract,” Pace said. “I met with them this morning. They’re finishing their end-of-season evaluations as we speak.”
From chairman George McCaskey to team president Ted Phillips to Pace, the Bears gave Fox his due on the day they fired him.
“He really did elevate our culture through the building, not just the locker room,’’ Phillips said. ‘‘He was so committed. It’s just too bad we didn’t win enough games, and it’s a results-oriented business. It’s tough. But he left with his head up high, and he’s a class act.”
The Fangio Factor
Pace shed no light on defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s potential candidacy for the head-coaching job. And he didn’t bite when asked.
“I have a lot of respect for Vic. He did a great job with our defense,” Pace said. “But we’re not going to get into who’s on that list and who’s not right now.”
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