Jury is still out on this year's moves by Bears GM Ryan Pace
Ryan Pace won the NFL's executive of the year award last season when it seemed virtually all his moves paid off to some degree.
As coach Matt Nagy so often says, much can change from one year to the next.
A year later Pace's offseason moves haven't panned out to the same degree in the season's first five weeks like last year's moves.
Pace's biggest failure this year so far might be doubling down on his signature move from 2017, one still weighing heavily on the team – trading away draft picks to move up for Mitchell Trubisky when Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes were available when he was supposed to draft.
A few days before the start of this season, Pace said this of Trubisky:
"You can feel him operating faster, and I think that comes with knowledge and comfort in the offense, with the scheme and then also the players that he's playing with."
It hasn't looked this way. Trubisky has a sub-par 81.0 passer rating for his three-plus games and a scant 5.5 yards per pass attempt. The latter figure reflects his inability to throw downfield, and is a key number for all playoff teams. A number closer to 8.0 is needed.
On the other hand, so far this season Pace's kicker and two defensive acquisitions have delivered, especially his kicker. Then again, kickers can be fickle. At this time last year Cody Parkey still seemed like a decent pick, then he became a doinker and ultimately a double doinker.
Eddy Pineiro came over for a seventh-round draft pick amid a wild kicker search.
"We're very confident in him and there was a lot of adversity but in to that plan, you know strategically so," Pace said just before the season. "And we think it worked out just right.
"We're just excited with the trajectory that Eddy's on. Again a young kicker that's talented with the right mindset, we're just excited with the trajectory that he's on."
Pineiro delivered one win the Bears' defense had blown by making a 53-yard field goal.
His 8-for-9 effort fosters optimism the long Bears national kicking nightmare is over.
Here's how Pace's other offseason work has turned out.
Skrine hasn't been picked on like poplular speculation said would occur. He had 78 career penalties when he joined the Bears. In five games, he now has 79 career penalties. His only penalty this season wasn't for pass coverage but for offsides while trying to block an extra point. It looked like a disaster at the time, too, but worked out for the Bears when Trubisky, Allen Robinson and Pineiro saved the day. He's recorded two passes defensed and 16 tackles.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Clinton-Dix made two interceptions to trigger the win over his old team, the Redskins. With 27 tackles, all but two solo, a fumble recovery and two passes defense, Clinton-Dix appears headed for his best season since he made the Pro Bowl in 2016. The only problem, of course, is Pace could only sign him to a one-year deal when he was acquired.
Matt Nagy hasn't quite figured out when or how to get Patterson involved in the offense. He had the 46-yard run to help ignite a stagnant Bears offense against Denver, but not much else. He's made just three catches for 12 yards and had 25 yards on his other nine rushing attempts. On the other hand, Patterson's kick return average is only a yard below his career average of 30.0 and he has proven adept at something few talked about upon his acquisition – playing gunner. A big guy moving so fast can't be a good thought for punt returners.
Who? Davis was supposed to be a part of a backfield by committee. At least that's what Pace said Nagy liked to do with backs. Instead, Davis has only nine rushing attempts and only four since Week 1. He had six receptions for 17 yards in Week 1 and none since. Nagy said a personal situation kept Davis out of practice before the Vikings game and got on the field for only 10 snaps this past Sunday, including four on offense. He never touched the ball.
The winner of the Bears' Sweeping the Shed Award for stepping in as a coverage linebacker with Roquan Smith sidelined against Minnesota, Pierre-Louis was brought to Chicago for special teams. He was involved in one of Sunday's biggest disasters for the Bears when he was called for running into the kicker, allowing the Raiders a chance to fake a punt and gain a first down in their drive to a 97-yard game-winning TD.
Montgomery looks like a legitimate NFL starter now as he gets most of the carries, but this is an observation not apparent by his numbers alone. Montgomery's running skills testify louder on his behalf than his stats because he has only 225 yards and a 3.3-yard average. The offensive line has done him no favors. Pace and Nagy wanted Montgomery or a back like him instead of Jordan Howard partly because of receiving skills. Yet Montgomery has only nine receptions in 13 targets for 72 yards. Those numbers actually aren't much better than Howard had as a receiver.
The fourth-round pick from Georgia hasn't been active for a game yet.
The sixth-round defensive back has been on the field for 31 special teams snaps and six defensive snaps. He has yet to make a tackle.