You know what they say: If you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have one.
You know what they should be saying: If you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have one general manager.
Unfortunately, whoever “they’’ are, they aren’t the McCaskeys. It’s why the Bears have Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles locked in a battle of quarterback mediocrity and why the Bears still have GM Ryan Pace, the architect of this ridiculous situation, on their payroll.
The franchise shouldn’t be here, not with Patrick Mahomes running around. But we won’t beat that horse, which is alive and kicking and probably throwing a no-look touchdown pass as we speak. The Bears could have had Mahomes but chose Trubisky instead in the 2017 draft. They could have had Deshaun Watson in the same draft. They could have had Teddy Bridgewater in the offseason. They could have at least taken a shot at Tom Brady. But, no. No to all of it.
They traded for Foles, who was supposed to “push’’ Trubisky in training camp. Many took that to mean he was supposed to push Trubisky off a cliff. Instead, Foles has been just as inconsistent at Halas Hall as Trubisky has been or, if you prefer, as consistently nondescript as Trubisky has been.
This has forced hard, angry, accusatory looks back on Pace, whom the McCaskeys hired in 2015 to finally get the quarterback position right for the Bears. But Pace has been a clone of most of the executives throughout the team’s history, the ones who had the same burning question on their tongues: “Quarterback — is that the guy who throws the football?”
Pace not only is the man who drafted Trubisky, he’s the man who gave Mike Glennon $18.5 million for what turned out to be four starts in 2017. That was $4.62 million per start or $3.08 million per inch of Glennon’s neck. Glennon was supposed to tutor Trubisky. But he was so bad that a kid who had started only 13 games in college was called to the rescue.
A popular and reasonable storyline in the offseason has been that 2020 is a do-or-die year for Pace. The thinking is that if the Bears and their quarterback don’t have a good season, Pace will be sent packing. Why do I doubt the possibility of Pace’s departure? Maybe it’s because the freshly scrubbed, calm-voiced Pace seems to be built in the McCaskeys’ image. Maybe it’s because the Bears don’t like change.
Chicago has an unfortunate history of slow-moving franchises when it comes to change. That’s why Cubs president Theo Epstein has been so jarring to so many in these parts. He canned Rick Renteria after one season as manager when the Cubs had a chance to get Joe Maddon. When Maddon’s act wore thin, even after he won a World Series, Epstein parted company with him, too.
The Bears, while not as averse to change as Jerry Reinsdorf’s Bulls and White Sox have been, still like their telephones rotary dial.
The truth is that the Bears should have gotten rid of Pace either after Mahomes’ 2018 Most Valuable Player season or after Mahomes’ Super Bowl MVP performance last season. That’s how damning the quarterback’s success has been. But that’s not the Bears, who care about continuity, appearances and, the biggie, character. They didn’t want to send the wrong message. They didn’t want to tell the world they made a mistake, again. They didn’t want to tell Trubisky what they really thought of him by axing the person who drafted him. No, they let Pace trade for Foles and declare an open competition for the starting quarterback job.
There has been way too much tiptoeing around feelings at Halas Hall. It’s why you should be skeptical that Pace’s fate is up in the air.
For the sake of Bears fans, I hope either Trubisky or Foles rises to the occasion during the season and does just enough not to mess things up for what should be a very good Bears defense. For Foles, that will entail finally feeling comfortable with a new offense and new teammates, giving him a chance to rediscover some of the magic that won him a Super Bowl MVP award with the Eagles. For Trubisky, that will entail cutting down on the mistakes that have him teetering on the edge of NFL insignificance.
But it would serve the franchise right if neither quarterback performs well in 2020.
The Chiefs gave Mahomes a $500 million contract in the offseason. It’s as if they said, “How can we show the Bears just how badly they messed up?’’ If I know the Bears, they cackled when they saw how much Mahomes was getting, certain that Kansas City would regret the huge payday someday. Today, however, the Chiefs are still reveling in the Super Bowl they won in February. So, tell me, who’s laughing?