In search of peace and quiet but finding Bears’ Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy instead
The GM won’t take ownership of the Mitch Trubisky debacle and, unfortunately, the coach will take ownership of the play-calling in 2021.
The idea was to ignore Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy on Friday, and thus to have a peaceful day. I have learned that I can’t “attend’’ a Zoom press conference featuring the Bears general manager and the Bears coach without wanting to jab a pencil in my eye by the end of the session. Or any kind of press conference featuring Pace and Nagy.
Pace is the king of saying nothing and saying it so very earnestly. When he’s done answering a reporter’s question, you somehow feel soothingly frustrated, as if you’ve been massaged by someone with casts on both hands. All you know is that Pace said something in a way that sounded meaningful but really wasn’t.
Nagy, meanwhile, will unleash one of his motivational slogans or go-to phrases, and you’ll be left to figure out the “whys’’ of “being you.’’
So I didn’t need it Friday. I would enjoy the sun and embrace a few moments free of deflection and bad tidings.
But there’s this thing called Twitter. And Twitter told me that Nagy announced during Friday’s press conference that he would call plays for the Bears in 2021, which is terrible news for anyone who has witnessed Nagy’s play-calling the past two seasons. And Twitter told me that Pace, when asked why things didn’t work out for the recently departed Mitch Trubisky in Chicago, didn’t answer the question for the 100th time.
You can see why a guy might reach for a sharp No. 2 pencil.
Let’s start with Pace, because he’s the source of the Bears predicament at quarterback and therefore one of the reasons that Nagy’s play-calling has been so atrocious. A reporter asked Pace to address why Trubisky, the second overall pick in the 2017 draft, had failed in his four seasons as a Bear. Pace’s answer? The Bears simply wanted an upgrade at the position, so they signed Andy Dalton last month.
You don’t need a journalism degree to know that Pace didn’t come close to answering the question.
Four years ago, he chose Trubisky over two quarterbacks who would end up being stars — Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. We’re still talking about that horrendous decision. At least, some of us are.
One would think that, at some point, an NFL general manager who made one of the worst calls in recent history would have to address his reasons. One apparently would be an idiot for thinking that.
A year ago, I asked Pace what had gone wrong with Trubisky and was told that it wasn’t the right time for a discussion, that Mitch was still developing as a quarterback and that it was too soon to make any final judgments. Yet most people who had watched Trubisky’s struggles knew he wasn’t going to morph into a star. So most people who had listened to Pace’s answer that day knew it was another dodge by the general manager.
But now all of Pace’s defenses, constructed of balsa wood in the first place, are gone. The Trubisky experiment is over. He has signed with the Bills to be a backup. Answers for the how and why of that massive crater at Halas Hall are required.
Accountability is in order. An explanation from Pace is necessary. What did you see in Trubisky? How could you have been so wrong? Why didn’t you meet with Clemson’s Watson for a predraft get-to-know-you session?
And why is all of this so hush-hush? It’s not as if Pace will ever be able to run away from his decision to draft Trubisky. It will be a public discussion point for years. Not talking about it does not make it go away, no matter how zipped Pace’s lips are. Nothing he says now will damage Trubisky’s reputation any more than Trubisky’s play has.
And, remember, the same person who chose Mitch is still picking quarterbacks for the Bears.
I mentioned earlier that the GM was to blame, in part, for Nagy’s sad play-calling. It’s hard to be a good play-caller without a good quarterback. Nagy was limited by Trubisky’s inability to read defenses and his lack of accuracy. It wasn’t the only reason for Nagy’s struggles with a headset – he had plenty of head-scratching calls at key moments that had nothing to do with his quarterback — but it surely didn’t help.
Now Nagy will have Dalton under center, unless Pace pulls an upset and acquires Russell Wilson from Seattle. If that happens, you can bet that Pace’s tongue will miraculously become unloosened and that he’ll tell us all about how he pulled off one of the biggest trades in NFL history.
If I had to sum everything up, I’d say that the Bears don’t make anything easy.
So, peace and quiet on a sunny Friday? Not even close. I stop up my ears, Pace doesn’t say anything anyway and I still hear him.