The Good, The Bad and the UGLY of Ryan Pace’s Tenure with the Chicago Bears

Photo Credit: NFL Draft Chicago 2016-swimfinfan-CC-BY-SA-2.0

Ryan Pace – There I said it. The name that draws the ire of most Bears fans. Sure, some would say, “didn’t that dude get us Khalil Mack? I love that dude!” but the rest of Bears fans are in an uproar about Kevin White, Mike Glennon and trading a fortune to get the third-best QB in a draft with two bonafide STUDS at the position… did I mention that he could have had either Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson and chose Mitchell Trubisky? You had a 2/3 shot of grabbing a perennial Pro-Bowler and you drafted a dude who still can’t read defenses…

I have to get this out of the way, I have been a Pace defender since he got here in 2015. Maybe it’s because we share the same first name or his penchant for making big moves that grab headlines. Pace is not perfect, but he’s also nowhere near as bad as the Phil Emery years. TWO YEARS and the Bears franchise was set back five years. The cupboard was bare and we were all Googling Carrie Newcomer; just kidding, we didn’t care. (Emery’s Goodbye)  Some of my colleagues have gone out of their way to call me a Pace lover, and they’re partially right. I DO love me some Allen Robinson, Akiem Hicks and Khalil Mack who, without the perfect haircut of Ryan Pace, wouldn’t be here.

Enough talk. It’s time to jump into the Good, the Bad and the UGLY of Ryan Pace’s Tenure.

THE GOOD

The 2016 Draft

I know what you’re thinking, Leonard Floyd couldn’t rush the passer; yes, you’re right, he couldn’t rush the passer (which is why they drafted him). However, Floyd was an excellent outside linebacker and while they saved a lot of money by cutting ties with him, if you ask anyone who covers the Bears (or coached him: Fangio on Floyd), they’ll all say the same thing: that dude was good at almost everything but rushing the passer. Let’s look at the 2016 draft:

Round 1- Leonard Floyd

Round 1- Cody Whitehair

Round 3- Jonathan Bullard

Round 4- Nick Kwiatkoski

             – Deon Bush

             – Deiondre Hall

Round 5- Jordan Howard (Seriously, Matt Nagy couldn’t find a way to use this guy??)

Round 6- Deandre Houston-Carson

Round 7- Daniel Braverman

Everyone but Daniel Braverman is either starting or on a roster somewhere. The Raiders just paid Kwit $21 million and Floyd is guaranteed at least $15.33 million. This draft was stellar.

Mid-to-Late Round Draft Picks

Pro-Bowlers: Eddie Jackson (4th Round) and Tarik Cohen (4th Round)

Starters and Decent Backups: Adrian Amos (5th Round) Bilal Nichols (5th Round)

Loads of Potential: Riley Ridley (4th Round) and Javon Wims (7th Round)

This is one of the reasons that so many fans thought the Bears overpaid for Nick Foles, the fourth round is Pace’s bread and butter. We’ll see if he overpaid, or if he got Nagy his guy.

Free Agents and THE Trade

Allen Robinson: A-Rob has been worth every penny and is about to get himself a very large, well-deserved contract. (Robinson’s Contract)

Akiem Hicks: While Khalil Mack is the face of your defense, Akiem Hicks is the heart of that defense. He is an absolute beast of a man (thanks, Canada). Look at what happened when he was injured during the 2019 season… This may be one of the few players the Bill Belichick regime regrets not resigning.

Danny Trevathan: I was one of the people that was really hoping the Bears would keep Kwiatkoski, but realize that Trevathan was the right move. Leadership, tackles and the best sack I’ve seen in a long time (at Washington).

Khalil freakin’ Mack: Ryan Pace pulled off one of the biggest trades that the NFL has seen in a long time. (Khalil Mack Trade)

The Bad

Lack of Transparency

Pace is notorious for keeping everything close to the vest. He only addresses the media and fans once or twice a year when he HAS to. I get the feeling that a few of the moves may have gone over a bit smoother with some kind of transparency. I am mostly thinking about the Mike Glennon acquisition. I am NOT talking about the Mike Glennon contract, which we’ll get into a bit later. In 2017 the Bears knew they were going to draft someone and they weren’t content to keep the team’s all-time passing leader, Jay Cutler. (I Miss Jay…)  They needed a quarterback and free agents didn’t want to come to Chicago. (Jermaine Gresham reportedly was one of a few FA who turned down Pace and the Bears to take less money elsewhere. Jermaine Gresham)

Rounds 1-2 (Minus Roquan Smith)

Kevin White: I know, he’s out of the league and many of you will argue that he should be listed in the Ugly, but lots of people miss on first rounder wide receivers with lots of speed. (The Bears have a former first round receiver returning kickoffs for them right now in Cordarrelle Patterson). There is ZERO question this was a big miss, but this wasn’t one of Pace’s worst moves.

Mitchell Trubisky: Here it is, some of you have written me off. Hear me out, please? The reason why I put Trubisky in the Bad and not the Ugly is that the draft is a crap-shoot sometimes. Trubisky has all the intangibles that NFL teams are looking for: size, strong arm, crazy athleticism and accuracy (according to many scouting reports). I will, however, get into HOW Pace drafted Trubisky later on.

Leonard Floyd: You drafted a pass-rusher who can’t rush the passer.

The Ugly

Outbidding Himself

Woof. Pace, you are TERRIBLE at this. There have been a few moments where I truly wanted to support his decisions but in the end, I, and everyone else, cannot understand what Pace was thinking. Pace has gotten into a bidding war with himself more than a few times. Most recently with Jimmy Graham. Graham (34) was reportedly signed the first day of the legal tampering period to more guaranteed money than the 27-year-old Eric Ebron. What? Why? Does Pace know it’s not 2013? Graham was a cast-off with that really good quarterback up north. His best days are behind him and Pace paid him a lot of money when other options were definitely available. You got all the toilet paper, now what?

Mike Glennon: You paid Mike Glennon HOW MUCH?! (Over $16 million) I get that you needed a QB, but marijuana wasn’t even legal in Illinois in 2017. What was Pace smoking? Who else wanted Mike Glennon as their signal caller? No one. The answer is no one.

Mitchell Trubisky: Pace traded the 3rd, 67th and 111th draft picks to move up ONE spot to draft the wrong QB. Let me be honest for a moment here, I like Mitchell Trubisky. Nagy did him zero favors by ignoring the run game and not letting Trubisky use his legs until the latter parts of the 2019 season, but it’s already clear, Pace drafted the wrong QB. Pace had a two-out-of-three chance at drafting a game-changer at the most important position in all of sports and he picked Mitchell Toyota Camry Trubisky. I am not as mad with the pick itself, BUT the fact that he TRADED up to get his guy when he could have just drafted him at third overall. I get why you didn’t draft Mahomes, but why on earth did you pass on Watson? It still hurts. Logan and Bob, thanks for consoling me that night when the Bears didn’t draft Watson.

The Tight End Position

The only one that gets a slight pass is Trey Burton. He’s fought through some personal issues and some injuries; Pace didn’t know that was going to be the case. In the first half of 2018, Burton looked the part of a starting TE. Adam Shaheen, however, is unforgivable. Why did you draft a dude in the second round that no one else wanted? (See the last point, Outbidding Himself)

The Bears currently have NINE tight ends on the roster. NINE. None of them are starters on any other team. Matt Nagy’s offense is dependent on the position and Pace screwed the pooch on this one time and time again.

Last Thoughts

The 2020 season (if it happens) will be the most pivotal of Pace’s tenure with the Bears. Everything hinges on whether his guy, Trubisky, can beat out Nick Foles for the starting quarterback job. If Trubisky leads the Bears to the playoffs and wins a game or two, buckle up for at least four more years of Pace drafting for the Bears. If not, we may start this whole fiasco again and we’ll look to avoid another disaster like Phil Emery and Marc Trestman.

Seriously…the McCaskey’s and Phil Emery said let’s pass on freakin’ Bruce Arians and sign Marc Trestman… Those were dark days my friends.

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2 Responses

  1. Christian Lea says:

    Nice article!

  2. doc52 says:

    the Good: Kahlil Mack
    The bad: Mike Glennon
    The Ugly: Wasting a top tier defense in its’ prime while wallowing in the mud with an unproductive offense.
    The dumb: trading up for Trubisky
    The question: when will the NFL buyout the Bears franchise and sell to football knowlegable people. Old man Halas has got to be on a spit rotating in his grave.

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