Not a peep from Bears GM Ryan Pace, man of mystery, after offensive line’s woeful performance

The unit he created allowed the Browns to sack rookie Justin Fields nine times Sunday.

SHARE Not a peep from Bears GM Ryan Pace, man of mystery, after offensive line’s woeful performance
Bears general manager Ryan Pace listens through a doorway during a 2017 press conference at Soldier Field.

Bears general manager Ryan Pace deserves the blame for Sunday’s debacle in Cleveland. He put together an offensive line that allowed nine sacks.

AP Photos/Charles Rex Arbogast

Ryan Pace should have called a news conference immediately after the Bears’ loss to the Browns.

The Bears’ general manager should have apologized for putting together an offensive line that couldn’t have blocked an offensive tweeter Sunday, let alone a Browns pass rusher. He should have apologized to rookie quarterback Justin Fields, who was lucky to get out of Cleveland with his life after his first NFL start. He should have apologized to coach Matt Nagy, who was taking a public bashing for his play-calling against the Browns, never mind that Vince Lombardi couldn’t have succeeded with this O-line.

Pace should have resigned on the spot, but of all the things that weren’t going to happen — a Bears victory, a good Fields game, a Pace news conference — that was the unlikeliest thing of all. You don’t quit a cushy Bears job. You wait until ownership fires you two or three years too late.

The Browns sacked Fields nine times, tied for the second-most sacks allowed in Bears history. Myles Garrett sacked him 4½ times, which means that Garrett can tell you what deodorant Fields wears and at least the first five numbers of Fields’ Social Security number.

It wasn’t all bad. Fellow Bears quarterbacks Andy Dalton and Nick Foles did have some wise words for Fields.

“They were just telling me there’s going to be days like this and, of course, games like this,’’ Fields said.

Days and games, plural. With this drafty, threadbare offensive line, it was a perfect, if unintended, observation.

I’m not sure what Fields could have learned on an afternoon like this. How to get your head kicked in? What the sky looks like when you’re on your back?

What happened wasn’t Fields’ fault, though, remember, his many legions of supporters did say that the kid’s athleticism would help hide the offensive line’s deficiencies. Those of us who argued that playing behind this line wouldn’t be good for Fields’ development or his brain cells were dismissed as misguided or soft. The best thing that came out of this game was also the luckiest thing: Somehow, Fields walked off the field under his own power.

How good a quarterback is Fields? Who knows?

But now you understand why Nagy wanted Dalton, sidelined with a knee injury, as his starting quarterback for a while this season. Surely you can see that he was trying to protect the Bears’ 2021 first-round pick from a debacle like this. That doesn’t absolve Nagy of his ongoing sins as a play-caller, but it does mean that the cleverest plays in the world would have been dandelion puffs against the Browns’ cruel pass rush. Could Nagy have called more running plays for Fields? Could he have called more play-action? Moved Fields out of the pocket? Yes to all that. But it’s hard to believe it would have made any difference with this offensive line.

“We believe in our guys,’’ guard Cody Whitehair actually said of the line afterward.

Early in the game, Fox announcer Greg Olsen, the former Bears tight end, suggested that Nagy needed to open up the offense for Fields. Let his pure talent take over, Olsen said. Immediately after that statement, the Browns sacked Fields twice in a row. Yeah, well, never mind.

As punishment, Pace should have been made to suit up, play quarterback and say hello to Mr. Garrett.

Fields completed 6 of 20 passes for 68 yards. His passer rating was 41.3. He’s clearly limited in his knowledge of the pro game. Also clear: The Bears would have been able to adjust better with a veteran like Dalton under center.

The best play of the afternoon for the offense was a pass-interference call in the third quarter. Throw it up, and hope the defense makes a mistake — that has been the franchise’s fingers-crossed approach for years, from Rex Grossman to Jay Cutler to Mitch Trubisky.

Right tackle Germain Ifedi had a false start on a third-and-one in the second quarter, which, if I’m not mistaken, was the Bears’ 1,000th straight game of doing such a thing.

“I obviously as a head coach did not do a good enough job of getting this offense ready to go,’’ Nagy said.

The final score was 26-6, which also happened to be the first-down discrepancy.

“You almost can’t even make it up — it’s that bad,’’ Nagy said.

I felt bad for Nagy. He took the blame for everything. If someone had blamed him for government corruption in Yemen, he would have said he should have spoken up.

Pace, meanwhile, was nowhere to be seen or heard, leaving Nagy to absorb all the hits for an offensive line his general manager gave him. Cruel but not unusual punishment. This is Pace, who is allergic to the media. And these are the Bears.

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