The Chicago Bears and General Manager Ryan Pace have been panned for a supposed bungling of this year’s NFL Draft. Trading away 2017’s third overall pick along with the third and fourth round picks and a 2018 third-round selection to move up just one spot for Mitch Trubisky was a price not worth paying, say the experts. Choosing tight end Adam Shaheen from unknown Ashland in round-two was an unnecessary gamble while Alabama safety Eddie Jackson has promise and character but comes with too much injury risk. And, critics suggest, running back Tarik “The Human Joystick” Cohen and offensive lineman Jordan Morgan filled lesser needs for a team lacking pass rushers, wideouts and secondary playmakers. Ryan Pace believes those choices take the Bears roster in the right direction, despite ridicule from both fans and analysts around the country.
The Chicago Bears Super Bowl odds are, unsurprisingly, not good. Only five teams–the Bills, Rams, Jets, 49ers and Browns–have worse chances at winning it all next season. On paper the Bears roster looks incomplete. The draft failed to shore up a defense that ranked twenty-forth1 in points allowed per game last season. It also didn’t add proven playmakers to an offense that ranked twenty-eighth2 in points scored per game. So what did the Bears draft accomplish? It took laser-focus aim at solving the most difficult challenge an NFL team faces–finding a franchise quarterback.
Critics look at the Bears roster and see redundancy with two potential starters at the QB position, former Bucs hurler Mike Glennon and the rookie from North Carolina, Mitch Trubisky. How could the Bears pay Glennon $45 million over three years and then, just weeks later, draft his eventual replacement as their top choice? Well, giving up valuable mid-round draft picks to jump up one pick and snag an unproven quarterback seems short-sighted. But Pace’s moves are just an acknowledgement of what Bears’ fans have demanded for decades, find a true franchise quarterback to lead the team.
The National Football League clubs with the best chances of a Super Bowl championship next season all have franchise-level QBs. The Patriots and Tom Brady. The Packers and Aaron Rodgers. The Seahawks and Russell Wilson. The Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger. Even the Cowboys and Dak Prescott look like a long-term match. As Ryan Pace and the Bears front office look towards the future they know it all hinges on finding a blue-chipper at the QB position. Is it Mike Glennon, an unproven, relatively unknown quarterback who’s being paid like an unequivocal starter? Or is it Mitch Trubisky, a one-year starter at UNC, a school not known for its powerhouse football program? It actually doesn’t matter.
As long as one of the two quarterbacks pan out Ryan Pace cements himself as a front office executive worthy of the lofty title and hefty salary. By signing a starter and subsequently drafting another starter the Bears will live-and-die by this premise: find the star quarterback and then fill in the gaps around him.
Ryan Pace isn’t going to play it safe with his crack at the Bears rebuild3. “If we want to be great, you just can’t sit on your hands. There are times when you’ve got to be aggressive. And when you have conviction on a guy, you can’t sit on your hands. I just don’t want to be average around here. I want to be great and these are the moves you have to make.” Pace’s front office career will either thrive or fizzle once this story plays out but, if nothing else, Bears fans should respect a franchise builder willing to take a risk on finding the piece that matters most in sports.