Hub Arkush: Despite 3-13 season, Ryan Pace should give Chicago Bears fans confidence for 2017

Another good offseason from Pace could put Bears in position for big improvement

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Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace, right, and coach John Fox talk to reporters during an end of season NFL football news conference Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, in Lake Forest, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace, right, and coach John Fox talk to reporters during an end of season NFL football news conference Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, in Lake Forest, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) — Charles Rex Arbogast

When an NFL club goes 3-13 after a 6-10 season, it is easy to scream for the heads of everyone in charge.

But is it fair, is it wise and is it the best course of action for the football team?

Let’s be honest, it’s the easy way to go. If the Bears mess the bed again in 2017, you can crow about being right and you most likely will get your wish at the end of the season. If you’re wrong, everyone will be so happy you won’t have to hear about it too much, anyway.

It is tougher to find reasons to stay the course, be patient and support the plan. If you’re right, nobody’s going to pat you on the back, and you’ll just get grief for feeling the need to remind people if you go that route, and if you’re wrong, you will never hear the end of it.

Nonetheless, I attended Wednesday’s presser prepared to tout the status quo and looking for reasons to believe, and I am now prepared to spend the next 12 months living out on that limb.

I like most of what general manager Ryan Pace has done so far.

Let’s start with the false premise the Bears are no better off than they were when Pace and coach John Fox arrived two years ago.

The team was the laughingstock of the NFL on the football field, and time spent in the locker room was about as desirable as invites to Donald Trump’s inauguration appear to be to A-list celebs.

(Please save your angry retorts. I’m not offering any political commentary. The facts are they apparently can’t get any of the “Hot 100” to come.)

At the end of the 2014 season, the only young players on the Bears roster worth keeping were Kyle Long, Alshon Jeffery and Kyle Fuller.

Josh Bellamy, Ka’Deem Carey, Ego Ferguson, Lamarr Houston, Demontre Hurst, Christian Jones, Charles Leno, Zach Miller, Patrick O’Donnell, Will Sutton, Cornelius Washington, Marquess Wilson and Willie Young were here, too, but other than Young and O’Donnell, how many are likely to be here much longer, and how much does it matter?

Conversely, Jordan Howard, Jeremy Langford, Cameron Meredith, Bobby Massie, Cody Whitehair, Josh Sitton, Eddie Goldman, Akiem Hicks, Jerrell Freeman, Danny Trevathan, Leonard Floyd, Nick Kwiatkosk and Tracy Porter all offer the promise of players you can build a winner around, and Kevin White, Jonathan Bullard, Deiondre' Hall, Bryce Callahan and Deon Bush just might, too.

We are still two years away from evaluating Pace the drafter, but I like the early returns and am very impressed with the measured approach he has taken toward free agency.

The evaluation of Fox must be different.

We know he can rebuild a team and take it to a Super Bowl. He has done it before, but he has given us great doubt about his chops on offense and clock and game management skills.

Here is the question I would ask about Fox.

While injuries are not an excuse, tell me what coach would have won more than three, maybe four games this year with the squad the Bears were forced to field because of those injuries?

This was always going to be a three-year rebuild. Those who believed otherwise were kidding themselves.

Fox may forever choose not to answer our questions, but I don’t see how that is grounds for dismissal.

If not great, he is a quality football coach who deserves at least the third year of the four he was promised when he was brought in to fix what was more than broken. It was trashed.

I think he is too smart to just allow offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains to misuse his ground game again next year regardless of what he’s telling us, and what other fireable offenses are you accusing him of?

With another good offseason from Pace and reasonable health, which of course I can’t predict, I expect these Bears to win eight, maybe even nine or 10 games next year.

I’m on the limb, tenuous as it may be, so try to snap it if you must, but we’ll talk about it next year.

Hub Arkush is executive editor of Pro Football Weekly. Write to him at harkush@profootballweekly.com and follow him on Twitter @Hub_Arkush.