Bears GM Pace has been around for 3 seasons but doesn’t have much to show for it
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I’d love to see Bears general manager Ryan Pace play poker.
I think he’d be the guy who doesn’t need sunglasses or a baseball cap to hide his emotions when he has four jacks and the guys betting against him have pairs and straights.
He’d be smiling and upbeat, just like he was when he was bluffing with a queen high.
Indeed, when Pace has a news conference, as he did Tuesday at Halas Hall, he seems so honest and forthright that it isn’t until later that you realize you better check to make sure your wallet is still in your back pocket.
He says the Bears have narrowed their 2018 NFL Draft first-round choices to eight players?
That’s great! Great info!
Uh, wait. Maybe that doesn’t include Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith or Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward or Florida State safety Derwin James (he has such long arms for sure tackling and interceptions!).
Or — genuflect here, please — the blessed Holy Grail from the Promised Land itself, Touchdown Jesus’ very own Quenton Nelson, a nonpareil guard.
Golly, what if, say, some unknown guy who played Division II basketball, then transferred to some obscure place such as Ashland is on the short list?
Oh, wait, Pace already took that person with the 45th pick last year: tight end Adam Shaheen.
So we have no idea what Pace might do Thursday, when the draft starts in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
But whatever he does, it will have a huge impact on the building of this young team, which has gone 14-34 in Pace’s three years at the helm.
Pace gets a pass on his vital pick last season, quarterback Mitch Trubisky. After one up-and-down season, nobody yet knows if Trubisky will be a superstar or a super-flop. Or perhaps, worst and most mind-numbing of all, whether Tru might be just an average, place-holding nobody.
You might think Pace already would be on the hot seat with Bears management. After all, he moved up possibly too high to get Trubisky while also giving up the Bears’ 2018 third-round pick. He fired coach John Fox with time left on Fox’s contract, and he has let some good veterans go.
Yet Bears president Ted Phillips said after last season’s debacle, ‘‘He’s earned the opportunity to see his plan to fruition.’’
A cynic could say that plan looks like a long descent into the coal mine of darkness with ground zero being the transformation of the Bears into a team worse than the Browns. The Browns, by the way, could make a kindergarten finger-painting class look well-run.
In January, Pace signed a contract extension with the Bears that will keep him in Chicago through 2021. That is long enough to see the Bears become something championship-worthy or truly embarrassing.
Thus, Pace is on the clock. And if we fans have any say in it, that clock does not go on for nearly four more years.
If there isn’t marked improvement in the Bears this season, what exactly will there be about Pace’s four years as GM that inspires confidence in anyone? (And, remember, we can’t fire the McCaskeys, who have owned the Bears in one way or another since Papa Bear Halas spawned the franchise.)
This draft might seem like a low-level event for the Bears because it’s certain they won’t be going after one of the star quarterbacks out there — Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield — via trade upward or any other sort of manipulation.
That is certain, right?
Pace said it was certain in his chat with the media. So we’ll believe him. For now.
But what about the multitude of position players who will be available if the Bears keep their assigned eighth pick?
They need help at wide receiver, at cornerback, on the offensive line and desperately — desperately — at outside linebacker.
Pace might get a free one here because his new coach, young Matt Nagy, will be singing the praises, with everybody in the organization, about whomever the Bears draft.
We won’t know for a spell if the high picks are any good. But, in my humble opinion, we’d better know soon.
There isn’t a worker in the world who can’t be replaced.
Sun-Times sports columnists Rick Morrissey and Rick Telander are co-hosts of a new podcast called “The Two Ricks: Unfiltered.” Don’t miss their candid, amusing takes on everything from professional teams tanking to overzealous sports parents and more. Download and subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts and Google Play, or via RSS feed.