Chicago Bears: It’s Time To Appreciate Ryan Pace
People already had their heart set on Chris Ballard. He was the golden boy from Kansas City who’d built his reputation helping to construct the 2006 Bears team that reached the Super Bowl. It was time for him to come home. The announcement of the Pace signing came as abrupt left turn by an organization known for liking to keep it within the family. This was something new, something different.
People were starting to doubt Pace and whether he’d done his job. Then a funny thing started to happen. The Bears strung together some wins. They beat a good Ravens team in Baltimore and then beat a good Panthers team last week. This doesn’t include them beating a good Steelers team back in September. It’s worth noting the combined record of their three defeated opponents to date is 13-9. Suddenly it is a team that is young, fast, athletic and smart. They have a stiff defense, punishing ground game and a confident young rookie at quarterback.
The key contributors to this sudden turnaround are nearly all Pace acquisitions:
Akiem Hicks (signed as free agent in 2016)
Eddie Goldman (2nd round pick in 2015)
Leonard Floyd (1st round pick in 2016)
Danny Trevathan (signed as free agent in 2016)
Pernell McPhee (signed as free agent in 2015)
Eddie Jackson (4th round pick in 2017)
Jordan Howard (5th round pick in 2016)
Tarik Cohen (4th round pick in 2017)
Josh Sitton (signed as free agent in 2016)
Cody Whitehair (2nd round pick in 2016)
Mitch Trubisky (1st round pick in 2017)
The best part is that of all those names listed, only one of them (Sitton) has hit the 30-year old age barrier. This means the Bears core of talent is relatively young and has a chance to grow over the next few seasons. In fact it’s already doing that with each passing week, guided by an experienced coaching staff. Having already equaled their win total from 2016, there are preliminary thoughts they could go after a playoff berth.
It might be too soon for that, but it is at least time to start thinking about giving Pace the credit he’s due. This team is on the upswing and looking better than it has in years. If Trubisky pans out as expected, this man has set the franchise up for years. Better still? He’s only 40-years old. Chicago could see him around for a long time to come.
I agree with the highlighted comment above.... Pace deserves a little love. This team was in shambles when he stepped on board and he has brought back at least a shred of dignity and removed the stench from this defense that Tucker destroyed. Still a very long way to go but no one said it was going to be easy.