A little help? Ryan Pace counting on it in Bears’ QB search

Pace said the Bears can go in any direction to finding a QB — “Everything is on the table.” And that working with Matt Nagy — instead of keeping John Fox out of the loop — will make a difference.

SHARE A little help? Ryan Pace counting on it in Bears’ QB search

Bears general manager Ryan Pace (right, greeting Mitch. Trubisky and Kyle Long before a preseason game against the Titans in 2018) has taken one quarterback out of 39 picks over six NFL drafts.

Nuccio DiNuzzo, Getty

Discussing the Bears quarterback situation with general manager Ryan Pace played out like a Marx Brothers routine Wednesday — it was too late to talk about the past, too early to talk about the future and the present was off-limits for security reasons.

That didn’t leave much else, just the reality that the black hole at quarterback that has clouded a proud franchise for decades is about as deep and dark as ever heading into the 2021 offseason. Nick Foles is under contract. Mitch Trubisky is a free agent unlikely to return. And Tyler Bray is Tyler Bray. 

And the big news of the day is that the GM who put them in this hole will be in charge of getting them out of it. Resolutely choosing Trubisky over Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson with the No. 2 pick in the 2017 draft often is a fireable offense in and of itself. Whiffing on Mike Glennon in free agency and Foles via trade would only seem to further disqualify him from picking the next one.

Let’s put it this way: There are five ways for an NFL general manger to acquire a quarterback: inherit one; draft one; trade for one; sign a veteran free agent; or sign an undrafted free agent. In order, those quarterbacks for Pace are Jay Cutler, Trubisky, Foles, Glennon and Shane Carden. It is so Bears that getting rid of the quarterback who is the best of that bunch is actually one of Pace’s good moves. 

Be that as it may, Pace at least acknowledged that despite Trubisky’s resurgence against four of the worst defenses in the league in December, the Bears have a quarterback problem.

“To get where we want to go, we definitely need more out of that position. We know that,” Pace said. “We’re just three days off a playoff loss, but that is what this offseason is all about.” 

Pace said the Bears can go in any direction to finding a quarterback — “everything is on the table,” he said. And that working with Matt Nagy — instead of keeping John Fox out of the loop — will make a difference this time. 

“Why do we feel strong about getting that position right? It goes back to that connective vision,” Pace said. 

“I have a ton of confidence attacking it together. I can’t get into specifics for competitive reasons, but I can point to recent drafts when we focused on needs … and we were able to identify a guy like David Montgomery. The same holds true for [Cole] Kmet and Jaylon Johnson and [Darnell] Mooney this year. 

“I just have a lot of confidence in the unity we have as a coaching staff and personnel department, but mainly that Matt and I have, at attacking that [quarterback issue] together.” 

As dubious as it may seem for Pace to be acquiring the Bears’ next quarterback of the future, the Nagy factor is a fair point. Nagy was the quarterbacks coach at Kansas City when the Chiefs identified Mahomes as their guy. And as fond as Nagy is for Trubisky, his frustration with him was evident with the quick hook in Week 3. And despite the relative success Trubisky after Nagy tweaked the offense to take advantage of Trubisky’s strengths, it was easy to get the impression that Nagy is looking forward to developing a quarterback who better fits his vision of the Andy Reid offense. 

“When I was in Kansas City with coach Reid … we had our own process,” Nagy said. “The only thing I can do [here] is make sure that I share what that was and how we did it.” 

But the Trubisky miss still remains a stain on Pace. A year ago at this time, when asked how he got the Trubisky pick wrong, Pace said it was too early (“I don’t think we’re there yet.”). On Wednesday it was too late. (“We’re focused on the future.”) 

Asked what he learned from his misevaluation of Trubisky that will help him this time — a relevant question — Pace instead talked about all the help he’ll have: not just Nagy, but offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo and passing game coordinator Dave Ragone.

“I get the question,” Pace said. “I really feel strong, especially with the quarterback position — when you talk about Matt and Ragone and Flip and Lazor and us just taking on a lot of these tasks together, that’s what gives me confidence.” 

Timing is everything, though. This time the Bears have the 20th pick in the first round, not the third. But maybe the combination of Pace’s gumption to move up in the draft and the added brainpower will net the Bears a franchise quarterback. Maybe the Bears won’t need to move up. Maybe they’ll find their Aaron Rodgers (24th overall). Maybe they’ll find their Russell Wilson (third round). Maybe they’ll find their Tom Brady (199th overall).

Or maybe they’ll just continue to spin their wheels. Who knows? The Bears gave Ryan Pace another chance, and left their fans with another offseason of nothing but hope. They’ll believe it when they see it. And you can’t blame them.

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