We are experiencing some exciting times in Chicago right now. The Bears are competing for their first division crown since 2010 (It’s been that long). We may see a variety of Bears players selected to the Pro-Bowl, as well as the Defensive Player of the Year, the Coach of the Year, and the GM of the Year. The best part is that this team was not supposed to start competing until the 2019 season. Like the Cubs in 2015, the Bears are a year ahead of schedule and look to become the dominant team in the NFC North.

After the 2017 season, many people wondered why the Bears did not fire Ryan Pace at the same time John Fox was released. Hired in 2015, Pace’s record as GM was 14-34. A .292 winning percentage. Now, his team is thriving and 90% of his draft picks from 2016- 2018 are contributing in big ways for the Bears. Let’s take an in-depth look at Ryan Pace’s journey to now:

Notable Draft Moves:

Looking back at all of Pace’s moves, I can’t find one trade where he wasn’t criticized. From the time he was hired, until the firing of Fox, Pace received scrutiny from just about everywhere. Finally, everything is taking shape and his risky moves are starting to pay-off. This is a young team with a ton of talent and a high ceiling. I have compiled a few notable drafts moves that Pace has made during his tenure with the Bears.

2015 Draft

Pace’s first draft in 2015 is perhaps his most controversial. The selection of  Kevin White proved to be ill-advised. White suffered injury after injury and when he was finally healthy failed to earn playing time. Another disappointment was running back Jeremy Langford. Expected to replace Matt Forte, the 4th rounder from Michigan State could never really get going. But, the draft did yield two very important players, Adrian Amos, and Eddie Goldman.

Amos has become a solid, hard-hitting safety and Goldman an under-appreciated (by the media and some fans) nose tackle.

Leonard Floyd

Pace traded away the Bears 2016 #11 overall pick and a fourth-round pick to get the Bucs’ #9 overall pick. Pace then drafted Floyd out of Georgia. Pace was at first criticized because of Floyd’s overall lack of strength. The criticism continued as Floyd proved to be injury prone. But, Floyd began to show the potential Pace saw in him when in 2016 he had 7.5 sacks. Floyd was headed to another solid season last year until he suffered another injury. This year, Floyd is facing criticism again as he only has one sack. However, he has shown signs of life the last few games and looks to end the regular season on a high note.

Middle Rounds Draft King

Ryan Pace is becoming known as the middle of the draft king given the results of his 4th and 5th round picks. Pace has drafted some studs there.

Over his tenure with the Bears, Pace has tried to acquire middle round draft picks and that’s been good. Here’s a list of players he’s acquired in the middle rounds:

  1. Tarik Cohen
  2. Eddie Jackson
  3. Jordan Howard
  4. Adrian Amos
  5. Nick Kwiatkoski
  6. Bilal Nichols
  7. Joel Iyiebuniwie
  8. DeAndre Houston-Carson

That’s an impressive list of players.

Mitch Trubisky

This will be Pace’s career-defining move. Pace traded the Bears 2017 1st round pick, a 2017 3rd round pick, a 2017 4th round pick, and a 2018 3rd round pick to 49ers for a 2017 1st round pick to move up to #2 overall and select the Bears franchise quarterback, Mitch Trubisky. This move was widely criticized by just about everyone, including Bears fans. The thought was that we gave up too much just to move up one drat slot to get a quarterback who might have still been available at #3 for the Bears. Everyone thought that the 49ers “Fleeced” the Bears

Interestingly, the key player the 49ers acquired in the deal, Rueben Foster, has been released by the team. He’s off the field issues might keep him from ever having an NFL career.  Fred Warner, acquired in the 2018 draft appears to be on the road to a productive NFL career. In fact, ProFootballFocus.com recently wrote that Warner’s pass coverage skills could become elite-like.

Going All in for Mack

What’s proving to be Pace’s best move as a GM to date. Pace traded for Khalil Mack, a 2020 2nd round pick and a conditional 2020 pick 5th round pick from Raiders for a 2019 1st round pick, a 2020 1st round pick, a 2020 3rd round pick and a 2019 6th round pick.

After the first game of the season, the Bears already won the trade. The Raiders will get a mid to late 20pick (Hopefully the last pick) in the first round the next two years. Meanwhile, the Bears get an early Second-round pick and another second rounder in the 2020 draft. I can just about guarantee that no team, especially the Raiders, will find Khalil Mack’s talent in the next many drafts to come. That’s a once in a lifetime talent. From here, the rest is history.

Other Notable Ryan Pace Moves

We can’t forget about Pace’s other moves that have shaped this team. Here are a few.

-Signing Allen Robinson (currently having a better year than Alshon Jeffery)

-Signing UFA Bryce Callahan (currently one of the NFL’s best slot corners)

-Convincing Vic Fangio to stay another year (defensive coordinator of the best defense in football)

-Hiring Matt Nagy (COY favorite and the next great coach in the NFL

All in all, Ryan Pace has made some very tough moves in the face of criticism. He has taken risks and they have paid off. It is time for us as Bears fans to sit back and enjoy the next 5-10 years of great Chicago Bears football. Let’s let the future Coach of the Year and GM of the Year do the worrying.

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