Prepare yourselves. June and the NFL’s official summer break means it’s “get angry about incredibly subjective lists that are haphazardly put together” season. Football gods forbid a contrasting opinion to get people fired up. It’s unheard of.
The latest news on this front comes to the Chicago Bears’ roster overhaul thus far in 2018. With Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Trey Burton, Roquan Smith, James Daniels, and Anthony Miller coming in together, that’s seen the Bears emerge as a national media darling in many circles this off-season. It’s created almost roundly reverberating praise for Bears’ general manager Ryan Pace: who needed an aggressive spring like this to keep his team construction on track.
However, it quite clearly still isn’t enough to win over everyone regarding Pace, seeing as how the new-look Bears haven’t won any games together. At least according to Sporting News, who ranked Pace the 29th general manager in the NFL on Wednesday. Notably, only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Jason Licht (No. 30), Miami Dolphins’ Mike Tannenbaum (No. 31), and Washington’s Bruce Allen (No. 32) ranked lower than Pace. The Indianapolis Colts’ Chris Ballard (No. 26) and San Francisco 49ers’ John Lynch (No. 12), two personnel leads often compared to Pace, both ranked higher.
On the other general manager comparisons, I’m sorry: but it’s laughable that Lynch is ranked that high this early in his tenure. Which, in any case anyone has forgotten, only one year has passed! I could’ve stomached something in the low 20s for Lynch, but in the playoff range? That’s ... unseemly. This is independent of whether you believe he swindled Pace in the Mitchell Trubisky trade. Contrary to the national media’s belief, San Francisco hasn’t made the playoffs under Lynch’s watch yet, and the roster as a whole has a lot of work to do before it’s ready for actual playoff contention.
Don’t let Jimmy Garoppolo’s glorious smile fool you into thinking that team is anything close to a Super Bowl contender, before they, like the Bears, actually play meaningful do-or-die games in January.
I know I’m breaking my rules about getting worked up over pointless and fluid lists, but I digress.
*Jimmy Garoppolo, faintly smiles*— Robert Zeglinski (@RobertZeglinski) May 29, 2018
"Wow, 15-1, No. 1 seed!"
On someone like Ballard, that’s more of a fair ranking. Though, it seems to be more of another position where Ballard - who is known to have an abundance of friends in NFL media circles - has people defending him. After roughly an 18-month break, Andrew Luck only just started throwing non-Nerf footballs on Tuesday. While the Colts themselves have a long way to go before they’re back in the upper echelon of the AFC.
Look at that check down in the low intensity of mini camp for Luck. Incredible! He should be back to elite play in no time. I have no doubts.
Back to the Bears. At first glance, that ranking seems drastically low for Pace, especially given the position he put the Bears in this past off-season. When you consider that he also hasn’t accomplished anything (2018 is the start towards moving on either end of the spectrum), it’s more than fair. Plus, as a consolation, it’s a few spots up from Pace’s last place ranking last year. Baby steps are acceptable.
More than anything, this subjective ranking is a reminder that not everyone is sold on what Chicago has built to this point. Not until magic in the form of Akiem Hicks sacks, consistent Trubisky touchdown passes, and Tarik Cohen breakaways happen on the field in a beautiful football symphony. All the off-season fluff for Pace and company pales in comparison to tangible victories and established culture.
And who knows? By this time come 2019, perhaps there will be lists to get angry about that aren’t ranking Pace high enough. Forever beware the dangers that list and ranking season present.
Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for The Rock River Times, an editor for Windy City Gridiron and Inside The Pylon, and is a contributor to Pro Football Weekly and The Athletic Chicago. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.