Ryan Pace’s Reversal of Fortune.

| May 3rd, 2021

It started with a dinner.

Dan Wiederer told the tale.

Ryan Pace had a “covert” dinner with Mitch Trubisky at a steakhouse in Chapel Hill. The reservation, made by Mitch, was under the name Jim McMahon. History! Trubisky drove a Datsun or Pinto or something. Humility! The Bears decided this was their quarterback of the future because he seemed to check all the intangible boxes found on a form Pace stole from a locked drawer in Sean Payton’s desk.

It didn’t work. And the scrutiny started quickly. What didn’t Pace like about Patrick Mahomes? Why didn’t he meet with Deshaun Watson? What about Trubisky was SO impressive – it certainly wasn’t his collegiate production – that it led the Bears GM to throw horse blinders on and ignore everybody else?

The Pace tenure had become defined by those months leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft and the production of the men he decided not to take. Sure, he whiffed on Kevin White, reached (ridiculously) for Adam Shaheen and tossed some money away on Robert Quinn. But every GM misses on picks and spends money ineffectively in free agency. Trubisky was the story. And that mistake, compounded by Pace’s inability to correct it (an improbable task, to be fair) was the entire narrative. Every positive move, including rebuilding the worst defense in Chicago Bears history, was shuffled into the shadows.


Come the end of the 2020 season, the expectations were that Pace would be GM no longer. The Bears were coming off back-to-back mediocre seasons, with a flop quarterback and an aging defense. Change felt inevitable, whether that be the coach, the GM or long-time team president Ted Phillips. GMs don’t get second chances to find franchise quarterbacks. Owners, especially in this modern, last-place-to-first-place-yearly NFL, are not patient individuals. It’s been well-discussed how much George McCaskey likes Pace but an owner’s love plus $5.99 will get you a double cheese at the Billy Goat.

They stood pat. They delivered an awkward press conference, preached collaboration, and maintained an organizational status quo. McCaskey and Phillips trusted their instincts, leaning on their belief that Pace – still only 44 years old – was not a completed picture. In any line of work, one usually improves with time and experience and the Bears believed the same would be true for Pace. It was not a decision met favorably by those who cover and cheer for the Chicago Bears. Many claimed it was the Bears acting like 8-8 was perfectly acceptable. But anyone listening to that presser heard a distinct refrain: it was about the quarterback. Pace was admitting his Trubisky failure and vowing to make amends THIS offseason.

As the draft closed in, that vow seemed like horseshit.

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ATM: 17 Solid Options at the 20th Overall Pick

| April 27th, 2021

Even if they aren’t able to move up for a quarterback, the Chicago Bears should still get a really good player with the 20th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

There are 17 players the Bears should be ecstatic to get their hands on this week. On the surface, it sounds bad that there are only 17 players and the Bears have the 20th pick, but consider players at other positions will also be drafted by needy organizations. There figure to be at least a few pass rushers taken off the board, a couple off-ball linebackers and probably even a guard or defensive tackle. It’s likely the Bears will have a couple of options from this list. Of the players I listed, the lowest-ranked on the 2021 NFL Draft Consensus Big Board produced by The Athletic is 26.

Considered for this list were positions of need for the Bears. They need a quarterback. The release of Kyle Fuller made cornerback another obvious pick. But we also heard the rumors of the team going after tackle Trent Williams and receiver Kenny Golladay, so we can safely assume those are positions they will strongly consider.

Here is a quick look at the players the Bears should target:


The Quarterbacks (5)

Really, any of the five would be great. We know Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson will be the first two picks and a third quarterback will go third overall. If Justin Fields doesn’t go third, there is no way he will last to 20. The only real possibility at 20 would be Alabama’s Mac Jones — who would be a top-five pick in pretty much any other draft – and is still the favorite to go third to San Francisco.

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ATM: Pace Can Be Trusted When It Comes to Draft

| April 20th, 2021

Since the Bears hired Ryan Pace prior to the 2015 offseason, few teams have made fewer selections in the NFL Draft. But the Bears GM ranks among the best in the league at getting value with the pick he’s made. While misses like Mitch Trubisky, Adam Shaheen and Kevin White receive the most intention – rightfully, when it comes to the quarterback – Pace has been among the best in the league at making picks when it comes to the weighted career approximate value (CarAv). This is a metric used by Pro-Football-Reference.

Since Pace took over the team has made 39 draft picks. The only teams with fewer are Atlanta and New Orleans, while Carolina is tied. With those picks, Pace has managed a total approximate value of 407, just around the middle of the pack since 2015. The average CarAV amongst Pace’s picks is 10.4, the fourth-best average in the league.

Pace is often criticized for not valuing draft picks, but that oft-repeated notion seems unfounded.

  • Of the teams in the top 10 for average CarAV, only one, Baltimore, has used more than 45 draft picks since 2015.
  • Recent Super Bowl winners, Kansas City (42) and Tampa Bay (43), are all in the same ball park.
  • Other annual contenders like New Orleans (37), Buffalo (42) and Tennessee (44) also rank in the top 10.
  • Two other teams who are in the top 10 — Atlanta (38) and Carolina (39) — have made a Super Bowl in that span.
  • The only team in the top 10 without multiple playoff appearances since 2015 is the LA Chargers.

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If Not QB, Then Who: Part One

| April 6th, 2021

If the Chicago Bears are unable to secure a trade up for one of the five best quarterbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft, they still should be able to get a quality player.

Should five quarterbacks go in the top 20, that will push the rest of the skill position players down. And this draft is (supposedly) rich in areas the Bears could use upgrades.

Here is a quick look at some of the positions the Bears could look to fill early in the draft and the players who could fill them.

Offensive Tackle

We can feel confident that the Bears see a need here based on the reports that they were going after Trent Williams. Williams re-signed a huge deal with the 49ers and there was never a thought that he would come cheap, so the Bears were clearly — if the reports were remotely true — willing to shell out a large sum of money for this position.

The Bears have an adequate left tackle in Charles Leno Jr. and Germaine Ifedi played well at right tackle last year. The pursuit of Williams tells us the Bears want to do better than adequate at left tackle.

This would be a good draft to revamp the tackle position. While five quarterbacks will surely go within the top 20 picks, along with a handful of defensive players, wide receivers and a tight end, the Bears could be looking at franchise tackle, so to speak.

The only tackle who is pretty much guaranteed to be drafted before the Bears choose is Penei Sewell — widely seen as one of the five best players in the draft. The Bears would probably love to get their hands on Christian Darrisaw from Virginia Tech or Rashawn Slater from Northwester. Slater is more likely as some teams won’t like his size and could project him as a guard or strictly right tackle.

Even if all three are gone, the Bears could grab a mauler in Teven Jenkins, though he might be strictly a right tackle.

Tackle is widely considered the deepest position in the draft, so the Bears could wait until the second round or later. A player like Standord’s Walker Little could be a great pick at 52 or they could grab Dillon Radunz from NDSU or Brady Christensen from BYU.

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ATM: Draft Changes Make Picks Less Valuable

| February 9th, 2021

The NFL Draft is always a crapshoot, but in 2021 the odds of hitting are even lower, making the picks – at least the early selections – less valuable.

We’ve heard the story hundreds of times. A team likes a player’s tape, brings him in, puts him on the whiteboard and falls in love. In some instances, teams fall in love at dinner meetings in which the player made the reservation under a fun name and then walked them back to his crappy Toyota.

Same old story. But that won’t happen this year.

According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, all teams are prohibited from timing, testing, interviewing in-person or giving medical exams to any draft prospects outside of a school’s pro day or an all-star game because of concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a ban on all private workouts, facility visits, dinners and film sessions with prospects.

Communication can be done virtually or at structured events, but teams don’t like that. They want to get prospects in their building, have them speak to position coaches and work them out to see if they can do the specific thing the team wants the player to be able to do.

This is particularly important for quarterbacks.

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