CHICAGO – There is a narrative that has been bouncing around Chicago since April 27, 2017, that the future of Bears general manager Ryan Pace is inexorably tied to the success or failure of Mitch Trubisky at quarterback.
It simply is untrue.
Sure, Pace paid a huge price for Trubisky when he almost certainly could have had him cheaper, and he definitely could have selected Deshaun Watson or Patrick Mahomes with his own pick in the draft rather than trading up for Trubisky, and there are fans who will forever roast him if either turns out to be the better QB than Trubisky.
But it is all just ancillary noise surrounding the real question of just how good, mediocre or poor a GM Pace proves to be.
The bottom line is Pace was brought to Chicago to build a Super Bowl team.
Finding an all-star quarterback at the top of the draft is thought by many to be a prerequisite to accomplishing that goal, but it is not.
The ultimate measure of Pace’s tenure will be whether he built a perennial contender and won a title or more, not the player Trubisky eventually becomes.
Since 2013, only one QB drafted in the first round, Peyton Manning, has won a Super Bowl (during the 2015 season), and that year he started only nine games and was a shadow of himself when he came back for the playoffs and won behind the Denver defense.
Seattle claimed the 2013 season Super Bowl behind third-round choice Russell Wilson.
In 2014 and 2016, the Patriots won behind sixth-round pick Tom Brady, and last season Nick Foles, a third-round pick of the Eagles, won a Super Bowl with Philadelphia after playing for two other NFL teams.
Yes, Brady is the greatest of all time, and Wilson is a perennial Pro Bowler, but nobody but Bill Belichick and John Schneider/Pete Carroll thought much of them coming out of school.
Foles may not be one of the 10 best quarterbacks in the NFL right now, but for seven weeks last year he was better than anyone else, and now folks keep throwing around the genius word when discussing Eagles GM Howie Roseman.
Yes, the straightest path to sainthood in Chicago for Pace is if Trubisky becomes a Super Bowl-winning quarterback, but that’s no reason not to do a fair evaluation of what Pace has accomplished in his first 3 1/2 years on the job.
When he arrived in Chicago, Pace inherited one of the three or four worst rosters and locker rooms in the NFL.
Obviously, John Fox wasn’t a great hire as coach, and Pace has to own that, but it’s pretty clear it wasn’t really his idea.
We’ll evaluate Matt Nagy in a year or two, but early returns suggest Pace really may have gotten ahold of one on his second trip to the plate, and getting defensive coordinator Vic Fangio to stick around was an absolute home run.
Kyle Long, Kyle Fuller, Charles Leno and Sherrick McManis are the only current Bears not acquired by Pace.
Khalil Mack is a superstar, and Allen Robinson, Jordan Howard, Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman and Danny Trevathan have star qualities to their games.
Tarik Cohen, Trey Burton, Anthony Miller, Roy Robertson-Harris, Leonard Floyd, Roquan Smith, Eddie Jackson and Bryce Callahan are emerging through the early part of this season as among some of the most exciting young players in the league.
And Chase Daniel, Benny Cunningham, Bobby Massie, Sam Acho and Prince Amukamara are the kind of key veteran contributors you’ll find on every contending team.
It’s early, and we still don’t know how good this Bears team is or how good it is going to become.
But we do know that this roster is light years more talented than the group Pace inherited, and they may be – I emphasize MAY – on the verge of becoming very, very good.
For all the crap Pace has taken over the Fox regime, the Kevin White injuries and the Mike Glennon era (all four weeks of it), isn’t it time we gave him some credit for a job that looks like it’s being pretty well done?