Mediocrity or rather, familiarity, breeds contempt. That’s how it goes, right?
In a pre-draft set-up, CBS Sports and Roto World recently ranked every NFL head coach and general manager, respectively, from top to bottom. On both lists, neither of the Chicago Bears’ head men in Ryan Pace and John Fox rank particularly well. That’s what you expectedly get when you go 9-23 in the first seasons of your joint regime.
But what’s interesting is that Fox’s experience and standing in the league at least somehow vaults him to the top half of guys roaming the sideline. As opposed to what some believe, in Pace potentially making the problems of the Bears he inherited from Phil Emery and Marc Trestman, worse.
Here’s what Rotoworld’s Patrick Daugherty had to say about Chicago’s lead evaluator in flux at No. 25 among general managers.
“Ryan Pace inherited an awful situation. Has he made it worse? His first draft pick, Kevin White, is shaping up as a certified bust. Last year’s first-rounder, Leonard Floyd, suffered through a concussion-marred rookie campaign. Pace wisely pulled the plug on Jay Cutler, but his backup plan — lavishing $16 million on Mike Glennon — has Brock Osweiler 2.0 written all over it. Pace handed out similarly questionable contracts to Kendall Wright and Markus Wheaton. Pace knows he has to fix his offense, but his 2017 offseason has contained more than a whiff of desperation. Pace arrived from New Orleans with an excellent reputation. Right now, that’s all he’s going on. General managers need time. Pace is getting his. 2017 will determine how much more.”
Like many, Daugherty is wisely skeptical of the job Pace has done or of the plan he’s setting in place. But he’s withholding more concrete judgment until 2017 can paint a better picture of the direction the executive is taking the Bears. Still, it hurts to jettison talent such as Alshon Jeffery or to wholly believe in the signing of Mike Glennon from the surface, as Daugherty mentions.
Results need to speak for either move and soon. A rebuild can’t go on forever.
It’s difficult to argue that this is a make-or-break year for Pace and whatever is in store for his Chicago future. There’s no more room for mistakes for this franchise under his guidance. If he’s the guy long-term to turn the Bears into a contender then it’s time for a piece of that vision to show out.
Meanwhile, as noted, even despite the relative mediocrity “enjoyed” in tune with Pace, Fox still sits in the top half of the league’s standing as a head coach.
In that light, here’s what CBS’s Pete Prisco had to say about the veteran Fox, who comes in at No. 14 among head coaches.
“In his 15 seasons with Carolina, Denver and Chicago, he has been to two Super Bowls, losing both, and has five seasons of double-digit victories. He has had a rough go of it in Chicago the past two seasons, going 6-10 and 3-13, but he has had some injury issues. Even so, his belief that running the football wins games is out of date. Failing to change with the times on offense has held his teams back. His .533 winning percentage isn't that impressive, but he was 38-10 in his final three seasons in Denver. If only they had won a Super Bowl.”
So it seems more that Fox’s stability has him hang around as a leader in Prisco’s eyes than as a true difference maker of a coach. The criticisms of a guy stuck in the past with his conservative running game ideal isn’t lost on anyone, though. That note on Denver’s impressive record is also fascinating considering the heavy boost that came from Peyton Manning and 131 touchdown passes with the Broncos.
A thought not lost on Football Outsiders’ who had Fox near the top half of coaches with players lost to injury from 2002-2015 at No. 36. The boost of Manning and 38 wins in Denver to inch him to a .533 winning percentage that isn’t “that impressive” as Pricso says, shows that Fox probably is more of a transitional coach in Chicago, resting on stability and the old game.
Nevertheless, both Pace and Fox can change the current thoughts surrounding their regime with a measured and quality approach moving forward, starting with another crucial step - the 2017 NFL Draft this weekend. Maybe then with due time, people will warm up to where the Bears are potentially headed.
Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for the Rock River Times and is a staff writer for Windy City Gridiron. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.