Grading NFL general managers is not a simple process. Most are happy with hit rates of 50% in the draft. Most make mistakes in free agency. Most haven’t created perfect rosters because the salary cap makes a “perfect roster” impossible. Most get a coach hire wrong at some stage.
Ryan Pace took over the Bears after they had just completed the most embarrassingly pitiful defensive season in franchise history. He took them over after a season where they embarrassed the city and fan base on and off the field. Five years later they have the most talented defensive roster in the league. Five years later they are a tight, cohesive group. That’s not easy. Everyone doesn’t do that. As a friend, who scouts for another franchise told me, “it’s a top five roster”.
But Pace, to the objective eye, has three deficient positions. And they’re not minor.
He loved Marcus Mariota. Mariota is not any good.
He thought Mike Glennon could hold down the fort for a year and lead the Bears to a winning season. Glennon is not any good.
He has seemingly put his career on the line for Mitch Trubisky. Trubisky, it turns out, is not any good.
Pay no attention to the lip service paid at the postseason press conference. Pace is not going to let Trubisky go unchallenged into 2020 and risk his entire tenure on one of the game’s worst quarterbacks. Pace is beloved by ownership. They want desperately for him to be at the helm of football operations for years to come. But they will not patiently allow Trubisky to destroy what they believed was built in 2018.
Because for all the “he’s a good kid, he works hard” stuff that has surfaced about Trubisky, there has been a general souring on him inside the building. The head coach has done everything he can to simplify the game for the kid but nothing has worked. And the quarterback’s approach to the media has grown hostile. The Bears drafted Trubisky to be the franchise quarterback and the face of the franchise. He’s neither.
They paid Trey Burton like a prime player. They drafted Adam Shaheen with a prime pick. The two combined for 37 targets in 2019. In some offenses this would be survivable but not in the Reid/Nagy offense where tight end is not a luxury, it’s a difference making position.
Pace has to get this position right for 2020. Because if he does not, he will never get the max out of Matt Nagy’s offensive scheme. Austin Hooper? Hunter Henry? Second round pick? Does it matter? The position needs addressing.
Is Eddy Pineiro cemented in that role for 2020? Does anybody have confidence in Pineiro making a kick in a big spot next season? Has he made one since Week 2?
Pace can not let Pineiro go unchallenged into the summer.
Pace’s teams haven’t won enough to make the ground 100% study beneath him. But he’s shown enough ability as a talent evaluator to keep his job. And he’s a good 2020 away from being the GM of this franchise for years to come.