The general manager and head coach of the Chicago Bears, Ryan Pace and John Fox, met the media yesterday after their 2017 NFL Draft concluded. Since the transcript was so lengthy, I split it up into two parts. Here’s the Fox portion of the presser and the Pace portion can be found by clicking this right here.
The five players that they drafted, Mitchell Trubisky (QB, University of North Carolina), Adam Shaheen (TE, Ashland), Eddie Jackson (S, Alabama), Tarik Cohen (RB, North Carolina A&T), and Jordan Morgan (G, Kutztown University) were the primary topics of discussion, although they did hit on a few of their veteran players.
John Fox talked about the wow-factor of Thursday night when they traded up one spot for Trubisky.
“Well I think you know anytime you earn the currency of the third pick in the draft, obviously it’s real exciting. The further you pick to the top “the better players you get” I was very pleased with how the draft went, very pleased with the guys we got, I don’t know that we met all our needs, I think that’s impossible and when you’re rebuilding like we are but very pleased with all the players we got.”
And his thoughts on his rookie QB.
“Well I think you know the quarterback position was obviously a need position as well that became pretty obvious when we went out in free agency and got Mike Glennon. I think you’re always trying to add depth in every position. Unlike what some people think quarterback is key too. If you look back a year ago, we went through 3 quarterbacks due to injuries, so building depth I think is really important. I think that Mitch is a quality player, I think if you did research and we get to do that, imam say that a lot of people had him ranked very high, and us no different.”
But should Trubisky sit and develop for a year?
“I think it’s hard to predict any length of time, or try to know you say, just like any other position whether it was Leonard Floyd or Kevin White, or going back to Von Miller. You line up, you compete, like any other position and they decide you know when that time is.”
They recently signed Mike Glennon to be their starting QB, so Fox was asked if he spoke with him.
“My experience has been anytime you draft a player in the first round, or anytime you draft a player, you do have that relationship. So there is a, I don’t know what kind of moment but you’re not really excited. Whether it was outside linebackers a year ago, or wide receivers the year before. You allow them that, that’s something you do and you talk that through. So, they get over it, they start competing and it’s Mike’s team he’s the started he feels really good about that at this point.”
Fox was asked if there are challenges of coaching staff to manage that.
“I mean, we have to talk to all of the quarterbacks. Whether it’s Mark Sanchez or Connor Shaw I mean everybody. That’s true no matter who you draft I don’t care what position it is, it always has been. Rep wise, with the way we practice everybody gets reps anyways. I think that’s why in the past we’ve developed guys that may not have come in as high draft picks. I mean, we had Chris Harris in Denver. He came in as a college free agent. Well he got reps and that’s how he proved to the coaches what he could do and he moved up the depth chart. It’d be no different for anybody with any position here.”
Here’s his take on how Trubiski fits into their current offensive structure.
“Well I think he upgrades as a quarterback. I think he’s got accuracy, he’s got mobility, he’s a real fierce competitor. I turn into a scout once football season is over; our whole staff does. We spend half of the day on football and half the day on scouting. That means going on the road like a scout. I mean, we scoured the whole country looking at guys. With Mitchell, I think I loved his demeanor. I loved what he brings as far as a leader and a competitor and obviously the physical tools.”
The Bears didn’t pick a plug-and-play player at No. 3 in the draft, so Fox had some thoughts on that.
“To explain that, in this league you need depth. If you looked at our pre-season a year ago at our 1’s in the very first game, or in the second game when they play a half, the backups go in. those backups can all of a sudden be starters in one play. Like I mentioned earlier, that happened to us, a lot. That can control how your season goes. I think there is not a team out there that is not trying to build that. There are two or three teams that did the same thing we did, and have guys. It’s not like it’s some new things that’s been done by just us. We’re trying to build depth and build a better football team.”
On what you learned about Tarik in your visit with him
Pace: “He has a chip on his shoulder and I like that. He always wants to prove people wrong. He has a confidence to him. When we get these guys in the building, a lot of time is spent with our coaches, really gathering their football intelligence and he has a really high football IQ, which is important for that position because you’re going to be moving him around a lot and doing a lot of different things with him. I think the thing that stood back was the energy that he has and he has a chip on his shoulder and I really like that about him.”
A lot has been made of Tarik Cohen’s short stature (5’6”), so Fox was asked if offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains signed off that the height wasn’t going to be an issue
“Dowell wanted to be able to look eye-to-eye with somebody.”
Fox was asked if his GM, Ryan Pace, has changed over 3 drafts.
“He’s been the same guy. We talk about that in this building, whether that be players coaches or personnel people. I think he has done a terrific job and he’s got great people skills. You listen, but then you have to go with your gut too and people you’re convicted to. After three years, every year you have convictions on players and everyone kind of keeps track of that. We have been in this spot three straight years and we’ve even been in this spot with high picks. I think he’s done a terrific job.”
With a QB at 1 that will likely sit, and three small school players drafted, Fox was asked how the team has improved in the immediate sense.
“I think we would have been much better last year if we could have stayed more healthy. I don’t know that we were, you know, blessed with a lot of depth going into the season and obviously that takes its toll. You know, I got to visit with you guys every Monday after those. I think just getting healthy will be real important, and then, plus the additions we’ve made in free agency and now with the draft.”
Fox was asked the patience level that will required of him, having a No. 2 pick that’s going to be in a different role (the bench) than he’s had before.
“I think, at the end of the day, you’re trying to accumulate really good football players. I’ll go back to kind of similar, opposite, but similar, way back to my Carolina experience. We took Julius Peppers No. 2 overall. We got destroyed, alright, for not taking Joey Harrington at quarterback. Alright, now flash forward and it’s kind of reversed. At the end of the day, what’s going to be key, and I don’t care who you take, what position or even what pick at some level, you’re hoping you hit a homerun and you research and you work it and time tells.”
Does taking a quarterback change the identity of the team?
“It’s conviction. I flashback, you look at different quarterbacks that were taken and how they did. You know, there’s a lot of guys, even going back to even Denver, I mean Cam Newton. We didn’t know, we picked second. You don’t know what happens, so you have to evaluate a lot of different positions, create that cloud and then nobody knows what’s going to happen until the people pick in front of you, whether you’re at two or you move to two or you’re at seven. You have to go through a lot of research, not just an evaluation, alright, but how the draft is going to go and this draft was no different than the other 15 drafts I’ve been a part of as a head coach.”
A high profile rookie QB makes him the likely face of the franchise, publicly at least, so Fox was asked how the team will handle that.
“Even though I haven’t experienced that myself on a team, I know good friends of mine that have had high-pick quarterbacks that they’ve developed them. I go back to Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers; watching how that goes. There’s a lot of different ways to handle it. Jeff Fisher, a good friend, how he handled [Jared] Goff. Is it going to be easy? No, none of this stuff is easy but we’ll find a way.”
Fox was ripped on social media for talking with Fisher about how to develop a rookie QB, but look at the question posed and Fox’s quote. He was asked ‘how the team will handle Trubisky being seen as the face of the franchise publicly,’ not how he’ll develop Trubuisky as a football player.
When asked how Fox would grade his draft, he said, “I’m sure we’ll get some input.” I’m not a fan of grading a draft immediately post draft, but it is what it is. I liked Pace’s response to this same question.
Fox spoke about what jumps out about his new tight end, Adam Shaheen.
“When you’ve been doing this as long as I have, every once and a while players will jump to mind. When I was in Pittsburgh way back in 1990 we drafted a kid - who at that time the school was called Liberty Baptist – Eric Green. Very small school but a big body. Then the basketball background, go back to Julius Thomas who we took in the [fourth] round when I was in Denver. Just different ways to gain separation. There’s different body types that can create separation and matchup problems.
With Adam, what was very impressive of his was – which is also very important in basketball, having dabbled in that at a young age – the body control for a big man. Guys that you watch in the NBA, they’re extremely… they have good hands and have to have very good body control to play the game of basketball at a high level. This guy brought that. He’s pretty impressive in what he can do in terms of adjusting and catching footballs.”
My favorite quote of the entire presser was Fox talking about how he “dabbled” in basketball.
So was FOx happy they only drafed five players?
“We wanted 20.”
For the Ryan Pace side of the post draft press conference click here.