Are the Chicago Bears finally ready to make a return to form? There hasn’t been this much optimism in the Windy City since Jay Cutler was acquired in 2008 from the Denver Broncos. Cutler was touted as the next big thing in the NFL at the QB position but he would go on to lead Chicago to a single playoff series over the next eight years. Now, the Bears are looking to the future and they are doing it by trying to wipe away the past. This past Monday afternoon, Chicago parted ways with veteran head coach John Fox while simultaneously re-signing GM Ryan Pace to an extension that runs through 2021. The two moves when looked at individually don’t amount to much, but when looked at combined with Chicago’s past season, well, it spells change in a big way.
GM Ryan Pace came to the Chicago Bears three years ago, right alongside John Fox. Pace’s first big move as a GM was to hire the recently fired head coach. Fox and Pace together would combine to go 14 – 34 over three years as a unit. So why did Fox get the boot while Pace got another paycheck? Well, it all comes down to operational success. Ryan Pace has helped to navigate the Chicago Bears to a potential future that makes sense. Thanks to his ability to draft and evaluate young talent, the Bears are in a better position than they’ve been in easily five or six years. Unfortunately, Fox was simply not cut out to sculpt these new players into a winning unit on the field.
Pace hasn’t been all the way successful as the GM. He’s notably missed in free agency, striking out on Mike Glennon, Markus Wheaton, and Eddie Royal. But for each of these missteps, Fox has had an equally strong draft choice — Tarik Cohen, Eddie Goldman, Leonard Floyd, Cody Whitehair and Jordan Howard are all huge building blocks for the future of the franchise.
Despite Pace’s two-year extension and history of success as a talent evaluator, Bears fans are likely to be annoyed by the extension. Despite the obvious building blocks that Pace has set on the ground, fans will only be able to look to the pitiful record that Chicago has comprised over the past three years. Still, in Chicago, all things go back tot he Cubs and the growth of the Cubs was shrouded in patience. Chicago Bears fans need to be patient and let Pace do his work.