As I was sitting down to write about the potential new GM, Chris Ballard, the Chicago Bears have thrown us all a curveball and hired Ryan Pace. The Bears reached an agreement with Pace Thursday afternoon and will have an introductory press conference at Halas Hall Friday at 11:00 AM.
The piece on Ballard was going to be one filled with skepticism and doubt. It’s Bears nepotism all over again. Ballard, like Phil Emery worked for the Bears for years before spreading his wings and leaving the nest. Forgive me for blindly not wanting to welcome in another Dodo bird back into the nest.
Fair or not, the perception around Halas Hall is one of keeping important jobs within the family. The bizarre one, Phil Emery obviously being the latest chapter that failed miserably. Although Emery was said to be in complete control of operations the cloud of George McCaskey and Ted Philips making football (bad) decisions was still hanging over the organization.
Right or wrong, Ballard was going to be a signal of keeping with the status quo. Another Bears guy given a job to keep it in the family. Ballard might be a swell guy with a great football mind, but we Bears fans need a fresh start. The further we get away from the Jerry Angelo era the better.
In comes baby face Ryan Pace from the Saints. The 37 year old going on 19 year old sky rocketed up the ranks of the New Orleans system since joining in 2001. After playing college football at Eastern Illinois, Pace joined the Saints in 2001.
He was a scouting assistant from 2002 to ’04, a pro scout 2004-06 and director of pro scouting 2006-12. He has been one of the GM’s in waiting the past two seasons and the Saints denied the Miami Dolphins permission to speak to them a season ago while they were in the playoffs.
Pace has been waiting for the right job and actually turned down an offer from the New York Jets earlier this offseason, but to be fair so did everyone else. Everyone at the Saints has nothing but good things to say about him and it is obvious he was going to find this gig somewhere in the NFL very soon.
I am all aboard the Pace Bus (first and last time only I swear to god!) as this is a signal the franchise is moving in a new direction. We have no idea if he is going to come in guns blazing and crush the 2015 draft. Frankly no one does even those guys with expert in their twitter bio.
We do know Pace was heavily involved in the pro side of operations with the Saints. What kind of college scouting acumen he has is to be determined, but that is going to ultimately what decides this tenure’s fate.
The Bears are a five win team because they have had years of failed drafting coupled with expensive band-aids to cover the holes. The free agency moves have largely flopped and just a few draft picks from Emery have truly hit. Hopefully I never see Shea McClellin running around Solider Field ever again.
The only way to escape this pit of despair that has the Bears drafting at number seven in 2015 is to draft well and to do it immediately. The Bears cannot miss at number seven. No more projects, no more reaches. The bears HAVE to hit a home run here.
This is not going to be a one year fix. For all the nonsense people love to say about NFL teams can go from four wins to Super Bowl Contender over night, the reality is that is rare. The 1998/99 Rams are an outlier, not a blue print.
Pace by all accounts seems to be a bright mind and a hard worker. As evidence of today’s events where as soon as the ink was dry on his contract, he was interviewing Cardinals Defensive Coordinator, Todd Bowles for the Bears vacant Head Coaching position.
New Bears GM Ryan Pace wasting no time jumping into job: taking part in Chicago’s interview of Todd Bowles.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 8, 2015
We know the Saints have found great players late in the drafts over the years. From Marcus Colston in the seventh, Jimmy Graham in the third and Kenny Stills in the fifth. We also know the Saints have some duds of late. A top five defense in the NFL a year ago has now become one of the few that can compete with the Bears in incompetency.
Was Pace part of the problem of those drafts? Was he part of reason they hit on so many guys before? I don’t know and I am not going to pretend to guess. I do know Thurday January, 8th is a reason for optimism.
The Bears have changed the way they do business. No more family made guys. No more weirdos talking in monologues about the process and growing the football. Pace is a fresh start. A new beginning.
This hiring is a prison break from the Bears way. For the first time in a year, Bears fans have hope and as Andy Dufresne has taught us all, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.