It’s no secret that you get as much information out of a Ryan Pace press conference as you would a Q&A with a traffic cone or a meet and greet with a bag of beets. The Bears general manager rarely speaks with Chicago reporters en masse and on the record, says little of value when he does, and leaves everybody involved thinking that staring at a ceiling would have been a better use of their time.
Media members know this, yet we keep coming back to question the GM. It’s what we’re trained for, it’s what we’re paid to do and it’s apparently the belief of some of us that pigs indeed will fly one day.
Pace had a press conference Wednesday. It went predictably, which is to say it went to its usual terminus, nowhere. Everything was “exciting” in his world. Everybody was great. And the Bears were on their way to a wonderful season.
What most of us really want out of these sessions is the truth or, short of that, something that won’t insult our intelligence. Because Pace seems incapable of being honest in front of reporters, I thought I’d be honest for him. Here’s a fictional press conference with gobs more truth than a real one:
Reporter: Ryan, why isn’t Justin Fields your starting quarterback for the opener against the Rams?
Pace: You’ve seen our offensive line, right? Then you know these guys couldn’t stop a well-coached group of teacup poodles from getting to the QB. I’m not subjecting the kid who is going to save my job to that!
Reporter: How in the name of all that is good in the world can you show up for another season without a capable offensive line? And don’t tell me that offensive linemen are hard to find. Other teams have been finding them while you’ve been working on your bench press.
Pace: I know, right?
Reporter: That’s your answer?
Pace: Look, it’s not my fault Teven Jenkins needed back surgery. The rookie was going to be our starting left tackle. And, yes, I’m completely freaked out that a 23-year-old offensive lineman needed back surgery. I’ve brought in veteran Jason Peters to take Jenkins’ place. I’m hoping fans will dwell on his nine Pro Bowls, not on the fact that he was around when the NFL started in 1920.
Reporter: What else went into the decision to go with Andy Dalton at quarterback? Everyone in the world believes that Fields is better.
Pace: Thanks for mentioning Fields again. I was the one who traded up to take him in the first round. Me. Ryan Pace.
Reporter: You, Ryan Pace, also traded up to take Mitch Trubisky.
Pace: The Trubisky pick was a collaboration inside Halas Hall. There’s no “I” in “team.”
Reporter: There’s also no “I” in “awful.”
Pace: You never played sports, did you, you pear-shaped twerp?
Reporter: The decision to start Dalton?
Pace: I wish fans would get their heads out of their patoots and understand that we’re not going to be reckless with Fields. The chances of bad things happening to him are a lot higher than good things happening for him right now. Don’t make me start badmouthing our offensive line again. It gives me heartburn.
Reporter: What do you like about Dalton?
Pace: I like that he’s a warm body. I took his temperature in the offseason, and it was 61.3 Fahrenheit. Warm enough. He’s a quarterback, has at least one arm and owns a thick head of red hair. OK? It that answer good enough for you? No? What if I told you he’s a good presence in the locker room?
Reporter: Why does every professional sports franchise feel it necessary to talk about its locker room “culture.”
Pace: It’s a great tool for deflection. I know we’re headed for a 7-10 season, but rather than focus on that, I talk up the great culture we have at Halas Hall. Until we get some better players, we’ll pretend that what we’re running here is an encounter group, not a football team.
Reporter: Should coach Matt Nagy be calling plays?
Pace: Should I be appearing in “The Barber of Seville” at the Met?
Reporter: What’s going on with your cornerbacks?
Pace: You tell me.
Reporter (after a stunned pause): How have you managed to hold onto your job? Do you find this as surprising as I do?
Pace: Let me put it this way: I’d be less surprised by the sun falling from the sky. My record in six years as general manager is 42-54, not including 0-2 in wild-card games. It’s almost as if I’m wearing a “Fire Me” sandwich board.
Reporter: And it’s almost as if George McCaskey can’t read.
Pace: I know, right?