Donnie Zelaya

The Bears Brawl Chief Editor and Senior Writer

The Man Who is Transforming the Chicago Bears, right, before, our eyes.

Ryan Pace wins The Sporting News GM of the Year

The off-season awards continue to add up for the Chicago Bears. In addition to All-Pro nods for Khalil Mack, Kyle Fuller, Eddie Jackson, and Tarik Cohen, they were represented at the Pro Bowl by Mitchell Trubisky, Charles Leno Jr., Cody Whitehair, Tarik Cohen, Eddie Jackson, Kyle Fuller, and Akiem Hicks. Khalil Mack was also voted as a starter, but declined due to injury. Matt Nagy’s AP Coach of the year win and now Ryan Pace has been tabbed GM of the year as voted on by his peers. 4 All-Pros, 7 Pro-Bowlers, Coach of the Year, and GM of the year is taking Bears fans back to the “Monsters of the Midway” era barbershop conversations and creating visions of Super Bowl parades up and down Lake Shore Drive with parties in Grant Park. Ryan Pace is the man in Chicago working diligently to turn these dreams into a reality.

 

No GM in modern Bears history dismantled the fabric and framework of the team faster than the deadly duo of Phil Emery and Marc Trestman. From Emery’s long winded press conferences and failed draft selections (Kyle Long, Fuller, and Leno are all that remain) to Trestman’s decision to turn the locker room upside down – forcing offensive and defensive players to pair up in an effort to “strengthen relationships” and build strong bonds. No team plummeted faster in recent memory than when Emery fired Lovie Smith off of a 10-6 season and brought in the anti-Smith in Trestman. Brought in as a “Quarterback Whisperer” hired to convert Jay Cutler into a championship caliber quarterback, his inability to keep his offensive staff from leaking anti-Cutler comments (see Aaron Kromer, who also assaulted a minor for using his families beach chairs) and creating rifts in the locker room in allowing vets like Lance Briggs and Brandon Marshall to attend to non-football business matters during the season, losing the respect of young and old players alike.  After one too many blowout losses and players screaming at one another in the locker after said blowouts, George McCaskey and Ted Phillips recognized their mistake and cleaned house, firing both Emery and Trestman.

 

McCaskey and Phillips didn’t want to waste time and assembled a list of veteran and up and comers alike. Since he took over majority ownership, George McCaskey has been anything but a “traditional” McCaskey in the way he has run the team. While he did hire Emery and was behind the Trestman hire, he also moved quickly to fix this mistake. Gone are the days of letting coaches and GMs see the end of their respective contracts. His mother, the matriarch, Virginia McCaskey was in his words “pissed off” at the play, effort, and poor reputation the team was developing throughout the NFL. Transparency such as this had never been witnessed by the Bears fans or media alike. The favorite in and out of Halas Hall to replace Emery was Chris Ballard, one time Bears scout and assistant GM with the Kansas City Chiefs, who had an excellent interview and in almost any other year, would have locked down the job. Instead, a young upstart from the New Orleans Saints organization named Ryan Pace came interviewed and in the words of George McCaskey, “blew everyone away”. While speculation circulated that there were some in the building who were wary of Ballard and the changes he wanted to make, Pace represented something different, a change from the way the Bears front office historically operated. While this choice hinted at changes on the horizon for the Bears franchise, no one could have predicted the resurgence of hope and pride Ryan Pace would bring to Halas Hall.

 

Inheriting one of the oldest rosters filled with holes offensively and defensively, Pace had his work cut out for him from the get go. Through his gradual changes in the scouting department, bringing in an offensive minded head coach with a respect for team history and image, and overhauling one of the worst rosters in the league, Ryan Pace transformed a team that won a total of one conference game in his first three years (with an overall record of 14-34), to a team who dominated the NFC North in 2018. In winning the conference championship compiling an impressive 12-4 record, the Chicago Bears loudly announced their return to the upper echelon of the NFL. In hitting on critical positions in the draft(Mitchell Trubisky, Leonard Floyd, Cody Whitehair, Eddie Jackson, Tarik Cohen, Roquan Smith, Eddie Goldman, Roquan Smith, James Daniels, Anthony Miller) and shoring up the rest of the roster with key free agents (Allen Robinson, Danny Trevathan, Akiem Hicks) and pulling off one of the best trades in the last 20 years in landing Khalil Mack from the Raiders. Gone are the days of overpaying for free agents and settling for “name players” past their prime. Instead, he has helped bring in the men responsible for “Club Dub” locker room celebrations, playing loose and having fun every Sunday and rebranding an image like no other in Chicago Bears history. The man who has acted like no other Bears GM before him is poised to lead the franchise to a place very few have since the days of Papa Bear himself.