It’s a bit hard to wrap your head around a team firing its head coach and giving the general manager a contract extension on the same day. That’s a lot of blame to put on the coach for a disappointing season, ignoring that there might have been serious roster flaws too.
Nevertheless, the Chicago Bears made that statement on Monday. Not long after coach John Fox was fired after a third straight season with double-digit losses, the team announced general manager Ryan Pace’s contract was extended through 2021. That comes after the Bears have been 14-34 in Pace’s three seasons as general manager. Pace was raked over the coals for his draft-day trade when he moved up one spot to select quarterback Mitch Trubisky, but the Bears apparently like how that turned out.
Giving that long-term commitment to Pace is important in the upcoming coaching search. Now the Bears can sell it as a partnership that will last through 2021. It would have been awkward if it seemed like Pace was hiring the new coach while on a hot seat himself. That won’t be the case now.
It’s also a rare show of patience in an impatient league. Bears president and CEO Ted Phillips said the team is committed to Pace’s plan of building through the draft. That takes time. Phillips said the team wants to “see his plan to fruition.” That’s prudent. But now Pace has to start quickly showing better results.
Trubisky had an up-and-down rookie season, but showed plenty of promise despite a frighteningly thin group of receivers to throw to. Pace has to get better players around Trubisky, and he acknowledged that. Pace’s draft record has been spotty. But he will be ultimately judged by how Trubisky does. He tied his future to Trubisky when he made a bold move to go up and get him in the draft.
The Bears haven’t been good in a few years, and part of that falls on Pace. But the Bears are willing to gamble that his plan will have a satisfying ending.
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