If they trade up to get one of the highly touted quarterbacks, it likely would buy the general manager another year or two. Oh, and he’d probably draft the wrong guy.
The NFL Draft starts Thursday, making this the perfect time to discuss the greater good as it pertains to the Bears.
Many fans would love for the team to use its first-round pick on a quarterback, the general thinking being that if the Bears ever landed a talented QB, there’d be many more victories ahead and fewer damaged souls wandering around town muttering, “Cade McNown.’’ In this view, life would be good and everybody could stop talking about the franchise’s decades-long quarterback aridity, the way everybody stopped talking about the Cubs’ being cursed once they won the 2016 World Series.
Getting one of the top QBs in the draft will be problematic, given that the Bears are picking 20th in the first round, though when it comes to the buildup to the annual draft, there are no problems, only millions of words of solutions from fans and media. But I can’t help but think people are missing the point here — that if the organization is to have the slightest chance of winning a Super Bowl in the coming years, it has to be rid of general manager Ryan Pace.
This is where we confront the greater good. If the Bears were to trade up Thursday to get an intriguing quarterback – someone like Alabama’s Mac Jones, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance or Ohio State’s Justin Fields – it would feel good in the moment. But it would almost surely buy Pace another year or two on the job, which would feel like a debilitating hangover that refuses to budge. It’s true that one of those three players might turn out to be a “franchise quarterback,’’ a term so titillating to Bears fans you’d think it was erotica. But it’s also true that, given Pace’s history, he’d end up picking the quarterback best suited for a career in mutual funds, architecture or costume design.
Is this what you really want, Bears fans? You want to take the huge chance that Pace has finally figured out the quarterback position? You want him rolling the dice? You want him around for a few more years? And you want him trading future draft picks in an attempt to make up for a massive mistake?
You’ll remember that Pace traded up one spot in the 2017 draft to take North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky with the second overall pick. He loved the kid, raved about him, probably would have adopted him if that option had been open. Trubisky failed, and the passers Pace passed on, Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, very much did not. There is no way in the world I would want Pace drafting a quarterback in the first round.
I don’t trust him to choose the right one.
And I don’t want team chairman George McCaskey to see the presence of a highly touted rookie quarterback on the roster as an opportunity to weasel out of having to fire Pace for another few years.
The safe and correct bet right now is for the Bears to pick an offensive lineman, a wide receiver, a cornerback or anybody whose primary job isn’t throwing a football. The goal of Thursday’s first round is to get a player who can help the team and still get Pace canned.
I know: very defeatist thinking and possibly damaging long term for the franchise. What if Lance is the next Mahomes, an athletic, game-changing quarterback? If he is, then I’ll go with the historical evidence I have and apply it: Pace will look at Lance on Thursday night, find him lacking and draft another, lesser QB.
This is about trust, and when it comes to the Bears general manager choosing a quarterback, I’d have more faith in a nun with a fantasy football addiction making the selection.
This is about moving on, something the organization should have done with Pace and head coach Matt Nagy after its second straight 8-8 season in 2020. The Bears can’t afford to have Pace in charge at this point next season. The absolute worst thing would be for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to announce Thursday: “The Atlanta Falcons have traded the fourth overall pick to the Chicago Bears. With the fourth pick, the Bears select quarterback …’’
It’s terrible that the franchise is in quarterback hell. But don’t forget that the Bears are there because the general manager’s QB record includes Mike Glennon, Trubisky, Nick Foles and now Andy Dalton.
The greater good would have the Bears taking a wide receiver Thursday and Pace looking for work a year from now. The greatest good would involve the McCaskeys selling the team to someone who knows how to hire people who know how to choose quarterbacks who know how to play the position.
But you can’t ask for everything at once with this franchise. You start small. What would you call the Bears’ inability to draft a quarterback in the first round Thursday? A victory.