Atlanta, the capital of failed Bears GMs, now has Ryan Pace and Phil Emery on staff

Pace, who had a 48-65 record in Chicago, joins Emery, who brought chaos to the Bears.

SHARE Atlanta, the capital of failed Bears GMs, now has Ryan Pace and Phil Emery on staff
Chicago Bears Introduce Matt Nagy

The Falcons have hired former Bears general manager Ryan Pace as a senior personnel executive.

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Falcons just hired failed Bears general manager Ryan Pace, adding him to a personnel staff that already includes failed Bears general manager Phil Emery. That’s quite a declarative sentence. Somebody in Atlanta’s headquarters should have written it down before Pace’s hiring was announced, saw how it looked on paper and told the owner, “Either we have another failed Bears general manager currently in charge of recruitment or else we’ve completely lost our minds.’’

The Falcons obviously have no idea of the industrial-strength mess they’ve gotten themselves into. I don’t think I’m being unfair by saying that Pace and Emery are two of the worst NFL general managers in recent memory — Pace for committing the cardinal sin of drafting Mitch Trubisky over Patrick Mahomes, and Emery for causing organizational chaos in Chicago in record time.

You have to be crazy or arrogant to hire men who were back-to-back debacles for the bumbling Bears and think you’ve hit the jackpot.

Let’s start with Pace because he’s freshest in our memory. The Bears axed him last month after a seven-year stint as GM that brought them not just Trubisky but a 48-65 record and two wild-card losses. The Falcons have hired him as a senior personnel executive, which is the same title Emery has. In what other industry can you be so bad and get rehired so quickly?

Let me stop you before you tell me that Pace will be a glorified scout in Atlanta. Wouldn’t you think, just for appearances’ sake, that there’d be a rule prohibiting any person who traded up to take Trubisky with the second overall pick in the 2017 draft from being hired for at least a year? One season of penance and self-reflection would seem to be the minimum punishment.

The connection – there’s always a connection in the NFL – is Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot, who worked with Pace for 13 years in New Orleans.

Pace’s defenders laud his organizational skills. That’s one of the problems in NFL front offices. It’s a business that rewards obsessiveness. It too often mistakes professional fastidiousness for the ability to identify talented football players. Keeping the stage spotless does not make you a Shakespearean actor. Pace did so much homework on Trubisky before the 2017 draft that he had Mitch anecdotes and measurables coming out of his ears. But he clearly didn’t have the analytical ability to see if Trubisky could play quarterback at a high level. That’s another way of saying, “Oops!”

Perhaps you heard Bills star Josh Allen gushing over Trubisky’s abilities the other day. Bears fans got four years of that from Mitch’s coaches and teammates, but some people on social media now seem to be putting stock in the rave reviews he’s receiving from his teammate.

“The dude is an athlete,’’ Allen said. “I don’t think people really understand that. You give him leeway in an offense to have that mindset of, ‘See it, do it, we trust you.’ He’s going to kill it.”

Please, please, please, people: Do not fall for this nonsense again, unless you enjoy the shame and self-loathing that will surely come your way if you get back onboard with Trubisky. 

Sorry. Where was I before allowing myself to get Mitched? Oh, right, Pace and Emery, 10 years of Bears darkness and why in the world the Falcons would think this anemic duo is a good idea. 

Why the rush to hire Pace? Was there anything about his stay here that screamed, “Hire this man immediately!”? He did have some success with the Bears. There were those two playoff appearances, though one was of the back-in variety with an 8-8 regular-season record. It’s interesting that even the big trade he was praised for — the 2018 deal that brought Khalil Mack to Chicago in exchange for two No. 1 picks — hasn’t looked good for two seasons. 

Pace’s trade to get quarterback Justin Fields in last year’s draft? Maybe it’s good? Maybe it’s not? Nobody knows for sure if Pace was right or wrong, and I guess in Bears World, that’s considered a win.

Pace gifted Chicago with coach Matt Nagy. Emery gave us coach Marc Trestman. What did we do to deserve this?

In early 2014, Emery handed Jay Cutler a seven-year, $126 million contract extension.

“I see improvement in his ball security, distribution to his targets and a transformation in his demeanor as a leader,” Emery said at the time.

The Bears went on to get blown out by the Patriots and Packers that season, becoming the second team in NFL history to lose consecutive games by at least 50 points. In December, offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer admitted to the team that he was the club official who had anonymously told NFL Network that Cutler “absolutely killed” the Bears with his game management. All this turmoil, all of it overseen by Emery.

A month later, he and Trestman were gone. Cutler and his contract lasted another two seasons in Chicago.

Got all that? You can see why the idea of Pace and Emery together in another team’s front office might cause a grown man to lose his mind.

If Nagy gets hired as an offensive coordinator anywhere in the next year or two, feel free to dig down six feet and give your favorite columnist a shove. It’ll be the end of me. 

The Latest
The Blackhawks welcome the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft into the fold this fall. We provide details on his play, his progress and his promise in Chicago throughout the days leading up to his Oct. 10 debut.
They were standing outside on a sidewalk in the 3300 block of West 16th Street when they were shot, police said.
Parlay cards have been in vogue for nearly 100 years, gaining early steam in factory towns on pay-day Fridays and collegiate dormitories, writes historian Arne K. Lang.
Messi joining MLS has been a boon for the league and could lead to looser roster rules that could help the Fire capitalize on Joe Mansueto’s wealth.
The Bulls will meet with the media on Monday, and then hit the ground running for fall camp Tuesday in Nashville. Jevon Carter and Coby White headline the position battle at point guard, but not the only spot to watch.