There are those of us who will sit back and launch darts at Bears general manager Ryan Pace until the end of days for his draft day decision in 2017 to select Mitchell Trubisky eight picks ahead of superstar Patrick Mahomes and 10 picks ahead of Deshaun Watson.
Then there are those of us who look back at a long, poisonous history of NFL decision making and realize that he should at least be commended for trying to rectify the mistake before it’s too late and this roster passes its expiration date.
The Bears traded for Nick Foles on Wednesday, to a chorus of eye rolls. They spent a mid-round pick to do so and will need to digest the large salary that drew Foles to Jacksonville in the first place. There is little proof that Foles will change the Bears’ fortunes, given that he is not playing for Chip Kelly at a time when no defense knew how to stop him or Doug Pederson on the cusp of the RPO and data-infused offensive revolution—another perfect storm for which there was little blueprint for opponents.
But he acted. He acquired a quarterback familiar with his coach’s system in an offseason where time is going to be precious and condensed. He is giving the Bears an outlet should they find themselves cornered with a young, regressing starter again.
Perhaps it is not the most popular choice. This was an offseason where there was a veteran quarterback for everyone. Cam Newton is still theoretically available, as is Jameis Winston. Marcus Mariota was on the board before the Raiders snapped him up for cheap. If you were going to spend more than $20 million on Nick Foles, one might ask, why not ante up another $10 million and get yourself in the conversation for Tom Brady?
All valid questions. All darts one can sling at Pace.
The flip side is that there is a long history of NFL general managers who would have buried themselves with Trubisky. Despite the mountains of media fluff to the contrary, there really isn’t a gigantic difference between draft pick success rate from general manager to general manager. Legends of the sport used to draft players out of a magazine (and to this day insist they were better off doing so). The good ones are those who realize that the current trajectory is not sustainable and take the darts.
There is nothing Pace can do to bring Mahomes or Watson to Chicago now. It was a decision made at a certain period in time—one that, for a brief moment while riding the tailwind of Matt Nagy’s offense, actually looked explainable. He went through the stages of denial like any general manager, but luckily expedited the process.
Maybe this is symptomatic of another devastating trait shared by embattled GMs—the instinct to spend the roster into oblivion when they feel their backs up against a wall. This is almost as bad as denying roster issues in the first place.
But maybe it’s just something. A simple recognition that action must be taken. If that’s the case, Pace is already ahead of some of his counterparts.
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