As Bears sputter, especially on offense, it’s time to move on from GM Ryan Pace
The Bears need to make major changes to become a contender, and Pace isn’t the right guy to oversee that project.
It’s usually a simple equation.
A general manager who errs when drafting a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick and hovers near the bottom of the league for most of his tenure gets fired. That alone is grounds for the Bears to dismiss Ryan Pace, but it’s highly unlikely.
They seem fine with being just fine.
Beyond Halas Hall, Pace’s approval rating hit an all-time low after the Bears’ blowout loss Sunday to Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. To make matters worse, Mahomes reminded everyone that Pace snubbed him in the 2017 draft by counting to 10 on his fingers.
The game didn’t expose anything new. It was merely the smoke alarm going off long after the casserole had been burned.
Like the Trail Blazers choosing Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan, the Bears forever will be a punch line for trading up to choose Mitch Trubisky second, while Mahomes went 10th and the Texans’ Deshaun Watson 12th. The only way Pace will avoid that defining his career is if he becomes the architect of a Super Bowl winner.
There’s little indication that the Bears are on that path or that he can get them there.
In almost five seasons under Pace, the Bears are tied with the Dolphins for the eighth-worst record in the NFL at 33-46. The Bears are also one of 13 teams that hasn’t won a playoff game during his tenure.
Offense has been an unsolvable puzzle for Pace, and that problem is rooted in bad choices at quarterback. He paid Mike Glennon $16 million for four pitiful starts in 2017, then shifted to Trubisky. The only teams that have scored fewer points than the Bears in the last five seasons are the Browns, Dolphins and Jets.
Counting the playoff loss to the Eagles, the Bears are 19-13 the last two seasons with Matt Nagy as coach and Trubisky as the full-time starter. They’ve beaten one heavyweight — the Rams last season — and did so despite Trubisky playing arguably the worst game of his life.
Poor Trubisky. It’s not his fault Pace staked his reputation on him. He’s floundering, but he wouldn’t be a devastating disappointment if he had been picked in the 20s. In that sense, the fury toward Trubisky ought to be aimed at Pace.
There’s a lot of worthwhile nuance in assessing Pace’s work, and he absolutely has made some great moves. But he’s unfit for the road ahead.
He also has been unwilling to answer for his roster’s flaws as this season fell apart, shielding himself with a policy of Nagy being the voice of the organization during the season. The contradiction is that Pace talks every week in the safety of the Bears-run radio pregame show.
If — and it’s a massive if — he can concede that Trubisky isn’t the answer, the Bears need to find a new quarterback immediately. And if they need a quarterback, should Pace pick the next one? That’s the conversation-ender.
But the easy move for the Bears will be to keep the status quo. Give Pace one more season. Give Trubisky one more season. Try once more to make a run at the Super Bowl with a great defense and an inept offense. Kick the hard work down the road.
But keeping everything the same is going to get the same results. Maybe things will go their way injury-wise, the schedule will tilt favorably and they will manage to go 10-6, but it won’t be significant.
The Bears still will have that queasy feeling of knowing they don’t have the firepower to keep up. Nagy said he spent much of this season thinking, ‘‘If we don’t hold them to under 14 points, we don’t have a chance.’’
No one wants to sit through another week of that, let alone another season.