The Bears Are Young. How Did Ryan Pace Do It?

| May 15th, 2018

When Ryan Pace showed up following the 2014 season, he inherited the 3rd oldest roster in the NFL. The Bears were both old and bad – the worst possible roster combination. In 2018, they will be one of the youngest teams in the league.

The progress has been slow. They moved from 30th the year before Pace came to 19th in 2015 to 10th in 2016, but then stepped back to 22nd in 2017 thanks largely to a number of ill-fated free agent moves (hello, Mike Glennon, Markus Wheaton, and Quentin Demps!). We won’t know the exact numbers until rosters are cut down, but the Bears’ average age in 2018 is going to be somewhere around 25 years old, which will likely place them as one of the 5 youngest teams in the league.

Looking at their 90-man roster right now, there are only 4 players who will be 30 when the season starts: backup QB Chase Daniels and 3 guys who are primarily special teamers (Sherrick McManis, Patrick Scales, and Sam Acho). On the flip side, there will be a host of key players who are under 25, include Mitchell Trubisky, Jordan Howard, Anthony Miller, James Daniels, Cody Whitehair, Eddie Goldman, Roquan Smith, and Eddie Jackson. To put into perspective just how young the Bears will be, the 26 year old Leonard Floyd will be above average for a starter.

To further put into perspective just how much work has been done to the Bears’ roster in the 4 years since Ryan Pace showed up, let’s look at the main players on the roster in 2014 compared to now. Ages listed are for how old the players will be on opening day.

Wow. The key players in 2014 had an average age of just under 28 years, with 11 aging players (29+) and only 5 who were 25 or younger. This was largely because of years of bad drafting; only 9 of the 26 listed were playing on a rookie contract.

By comparison, the main players in 2018 will have an average age of just over 25 years, with:

  • Only 4 of them being 29 plus.
  • 15 being 25 or younger.
  • 16 of the 28 playing on a rookie deal.

If you’re wondering exactly why the Bears have sucked over the last three years, take a good look at that 2014 roster. There were comically few good young players, which meant that it would take years of good drafting to build a good team. This is not to say that Pace has not made any missteps as he built the roster, but this image gives a greater appreciation for just how much work had to be done to get to where the club is today.

Another thing to note is that the 2018 Bears are noticeably deeper than the 2014 version at the skill positions. I didn’t bother listing a 2nd RB or TE for the 2014 squad because there was nobody there worth mentioning,unless you happen to be related to Ka’Deem Carey or Dante Rosario. Even finding a 3rd WR was difficult; it was either Wilson, who finished his career with less than 800 total yards, or a washed up Santonio Holmes, who had 67 yards in 2014, the final season of his career. I look forward to seeing how Matt Nagy will utilize his deep and diverse group of weapons.

It’s worth noting that younger does not necessarily mean better; the Cleveland Browns have consistently been among the youngest teams in the NFL over the last five years while averaging three wins per year. But many people think the Bears are positioned to take a step forward in 2018, and the exciting part is that should only be the beginning. As the young players continue to grow and mature, 2019 and 2020 should be even better.

I know the last 5 years have been miserable, Bears fans, but now we’re left with a team full of young, exciting talent. With any luck, the next few years will make all the misery we’ve endured worthwhile.

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  • KentuckyBearsFan

    Floyd will be already 26 to start the season? Had no idea. If he doesn’t break out this year, then he just won’t break out then at his age.

    • willbest

      Yep. He isn’t a bust because he is productive, but I fear he isn’t particularly special.

      • AlbertInTucson

        …or particularly durable.

      • No Von Miller, that’s for sure.
        Look at that roster. Ouside Hicks, no AP caliber player.
        If we had been told in 2014 that 3 yrs from now, the new GM would have the same 5-11 record and only 1 AP on the entire roster, don’t think many wouldve signed up for that.

        • SC Dave

          I’m looking for Howard and Jackson to join Hicks this year.

  • The avg age might be 25 because Pace likes old rooks. (Approx)

    White 23
    Trub 23
    Floyd 23
    Miller 23

    Also, isn’t Acho the starting LOLB?

    Cutting Sitton the 4rth best OG (PFF) helped young them up.

    We also don’t have an old P or K (not uncommon for them to be 40) to drive the avg up.

    That horrible ’14 team. 5-11
    ’17 Bears team. 5-11

    Let’s hope the new wave can get them to 8 wins

    W all these yutes , I wonder who is the leader.
    McPhee is gone. Hard to be the leader in the rehab room (Long)

    Howard seems like he’s becoming a bit more vocal, so maybe him on O and Tre on D?

    • KentuckyBearsFan

      “I wonder who is the leader.”

      Young team, young coach. Nagy is only 40. With a team this young, it’ll have to be Nagy. But having a coach as the leader only works if they begin winning games with everyone buying in.

    • SC Dave

      I foresee

      O: Trubisky & Howard; rookie stepping up by season’s end – Miller
      D: Hicks & Fuller; rookie stepping up by season’s end – Smith

      • One of the knocks on Trub was that he wasnt a rah-rah guy (esp when compared to Watson and Mahomes). I want him to be a rah rah guy. After yrs of dooooont care, would be refreshing. McMahon was a rah rah guy. As long as it’s not overboard like Newton (which i doubt). We desperately need that in a franchise QB.

        I think Howard has earned it. After playing w one shoulder and being run into the ground, and still ploughing, no one can tell him shit. And I’ve noticed he started speaking out more.

        I liked Forte, but i always felt he couldve been a lil more vocal during that whole shitstorm.

        Think players wouldve listened to him. Instead, we got cray cray Bmarsh, fat checked out Briggs and smoking Jay, and we all know how that ended.

        • SC Dave

          I never really thought that way about Forte, but it seems right. At least what the fans could see.

          On Howard, the dude is a fucking warrior and my favorite Bear. GODDAMN I hope Nagy can figure out how to get from him what that young man can deliver.

          1,500 yards is attainable. And not just this year.

  • SC Dave

    In the left column, I count 8 guys 25 or younger, not 5.

    But the difference is pretty striking.

    • Yep that’s my bad. It’s 5 younger than 25, 8 25 or younger.

  • BenderMcLugh

    but he whiffed on Glennon, Wheaton & Demps, so he’s a terrible GM, remember? TURRIBLE.

    • ButtonShoes

      He whiffed on a lot more than Glennon, Wheaton & Demps.

  • CanadaBear

    Seeing Ratliff on there made me SMH. Other than Forte, Marshall, Jeffery, Bennett and Long, that was a pretty sad starting line up to say the least. Of course, Jeffery and Long were going to be dinged up constantly, Marshall and Bennett tried to out selfish each other and the rest of the team was old and past their prime or younger and crappy with no prime!!!!!!!!! NTM Mel Fucking Tucker!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • willbest

      Jeffery played every game in 2014 playing up 1100 yards and 10 TDs. It wasn’t until 2015 that he missed 7 games, and then 4 in 2016 for PEDs. Marshall ended up with a collapsed lung by the end of that season in addition to other ailments to go along with his locker room meltdown. Long also played the first 15 games that year but that end of season injury was foreshadowing what was to come.

      I think Ratliff was kicked off the team for threatening to kill somebody. And Hillbilly I did feel a little bit bad for. He started the season with a brutal bout of pneumonia, and being old it took him forever to get back into condition. I don’t know why we decided to go with him over Ware who was the other aging PR available that season. It might have been because Ware didn’t become available until after we signed hillbilly.

      • BenderMcLugh

        Hilbilly returning punts, we may never get back to those good days

      • SC Dave

        The mythology around Jeffery is stupid, but not near as stupid as the persistent garbage about “run, run, pass”. It’s so funny how all the mindless bloggers pretending to know something keep quoting that stupid mantra despite reality.

        Just saw it again today. SMFH.

    • SC Dave

      Mmmmmel Tucker!

  • Sactowns#1

    Damn, James Daniels cant even buy a beer yet?! I hope he’s hitting the weights and continuing to bulk up.

    • beninnorcal

      I watched him answer questions at a recent presser, the guy already looks like a beast. Said he was around 320 the last time he weighed himself, but he didn’t look fat to me.

  • Juan Stone

    How did they do it? Slowly and inefficiently? Hee hee

  • evantonio

    Ravens follow the Falcons’ lead and lower their concession prices.

    Think it’s only a matter of time before the Bears raise theirs.

  • KentuckyBearsFan

    Miami hedge fund manager is going to buy the Carolina Panthers for 2.2 billion dollars.

    Hedge fund managers are soul suckers playing with monopoly money. Which moron can’t make 10-15% buying another business annually when operating with little or no debt?…compared to the rest of us small business bastards.And any debt would be at maybe a 3% interest rate now.

    • Juan Stone

      Why Ken, it sounds like you’ve just defined Washington D.C.

    • willbest

      2.2 billion seems low considering the clippers sold for 2 billion.

    • I’m not sure small businesses can survive w out defacto child or immigrant labor.
      A lot of Asian small biz around L.A. use their teens as free labor, or employ immigrants as cooks, waiters, janitors, etc

      Even the ‘blue collar’ jobs. My friend did kitchen design for million $ properties , and the small biz owners(in his case, korean, jews and indians) employ immigrants to do the demo or construction, while skirting as many regulations as possible.

      Everyone worked like a slave.

      It wouldnt be uncommon for the owner to drop by my fiend’s house at 10pm to talk about blue prints, materials and customers.

      Needless to say, he got the fuck out of dodge.

      • SC Dave

        Ahh… so that plantations have finally come home to America?

      • willbest

        If the labor wasn’t available, wages would go up until people could find a substitute. So what you are implying is there is so much cheating going on you can’t compete.

        I don’t know how true that is that they can’t compete though. i have a carpenter client who is basically booked 12-16 months out, and most of what he does is fixing the sloppy shit others did. he makes more than i do and his crew makes a good living too.

        Some areas though, like drywall, its all about minimizing labor costs.

        • It depends on the biz. Some small biz is very niche and demands high skill level.

          Like I know someone who is getting their 57 bel Air rebuilt. Roughly $30k. Owner and workers seem American (upholstery guy tho might be an immigrant).

          Not everyone can rework that car from scratch, so can’t just swing by home depot

          However, say you needed a new compressor and parts for your AC . that’s close to $1200 at an up and up place.

          Could prolly take that car and get it fixed for $400 in East LA or TJ.

          Which place do you think most will take it to if given the option?

          Free market, right?

          So the whole thing is rather dynamic. It’s not purely a rep v dem thing, or it cuts across in weird angles.

          I bet a lot of dems wouldn’t mind that wall IF it was actually effective and if it came with a living wage , fair regulations, and high punishment (tarrifs) for biz that would bolt.

          But, that’ll never happen , ironically cuz of small biz owners who would likely fold in the short term w out cheap labor and skirting regs and even laws.

          • willbest

            I don’t know why people think a wall won’t work when its pretty effective for Mexico, Israel, Hungary, and everybody else that uses one.

            Also trump does talk tariffs, but he is going to need blue support on that since the Chamber of Commerce wing opposes it. Unfortunately, blues have been throwing a 2 year long temper tantrum and won’t do anything to help trump even if it is in their own interest.

            Also, every prog I know loves effects of lots of cheap labor, even as they profess to hate it. You can peg a persons thoughts on immigration 97% of the time by answering the question: does it help or harm their family?

  • BuddhaJoe

    Uhh, he drafted young players and cut older ones. This has been another edition of “Simple answers to dumb questions”.

    To be be fair the article was pretty good but the title was pretty stupid.

    • Pace also doesnt sign FAs over 25 if possible. Sitton i think was the only exception, and he put him out to pasture already.

  • Emily

    Nice work, John! Hopefully the only thing that will bum me out about the Bears moving forward is how old they make me feel in comparison….

    • SC Dave

      hahaha… and you’re probably still young.

      Al, Canada, and I… well…

      • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

        are old enough to have met Jesus.

        • The Viagra Vagos!

          Just messing ole timers. I just turned 40 last oct. As Yonny says, time is a fickle bitch

      • Emily

        Haha. I’m real world young, but I’d be a grizzled vet on that current roster…

      • AlbertInTucson

        I resemble that remark!

      • EnderWiggin

        I have a feeling that I am right there with ya!

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