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SportsMonday: Pace Pivot

I had a chance to take in most of the Eagles-Cowboys game Sunday night. I tuned in expecting to see Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott play better than he had the week before and former Bear receiver Alshon Jeffrey step up his game for Philadelphia.

Neither happened (although Jeffery did grab a touchdown) as the Eagles gave the Cowboys a 37-9 thumping. And so the storyline I've been pushing - that Bears general manager Ryan Pace is the primary culprit for the Bears' difficulties due to his dubious decisions in the draft and free agency - took a bit of a double hit.

Prescott is still better than Connor Cook, the quarterback Pace wanted in the fourth round in last year's draft. When Cook was selected before the Bears had drafted, the Bears made one, two, three picks in the round without taking a quarterback before the Cowboys took Prescott just before the fifth round began.

But doubts about Prescott's potential are starting to creep in. There are some excuses, with suspended star running back Ezekiel Elliott on the bench along with injured star left tackle Tyron Smith for both of the last two games. But with those guys out, Prescott had a chance to show he could find a way to win on his own. He has not been close.

I focused on the night game after the now 3-7 Bears kicked away a 27-24 contest to the Lions during the afternoon. Their season was essentially over before that game and it is definitively over now.

Pace had said early in his tenure that the quarterback position was important enough for a team to consider taking one every year. Then he went and didn't take one in his first two drafts. It is not surprising that in his third draft he panicked and made an unprecedented trade of three draft picks to move up one slot in the first round. There he drafted Mitch Trubisky second. A good general manager could have traded down to draft Clemson's Deshaun Watson, who starred for Houston as a rookie earlier this year before suffering a season-ending injury, and added at least one pick to the three that weren't given away.

Pace looked especially loopy last year, as Prescott stepped in for an injured Tony Romo and was so good that even when Romo was better, Prescott stayed at the helm of a team that went 13-3 in the regular season. But like we said, questions are starting to swirl around the second-year signal-caller.

Jeffrey was the leading wide receiver that Pace gave away for nothing in free agency this year. The Bears have been terrible at the position but it looks more and more like Jeffery was and is not the answer. If ever a guy was going to prove he was a star you would think he would do it with the high-flying Eagles offense. Led by stellar second-year quarterback Carson Wentz, Philadelphia turned in its latest stellar performance, posting 30 unanswered points in the second half.

We are past the halfway point of the season now and it is clear that Jeffrey is just another cog in the 9-1 Eagles' high-performance offensive machine. It is just about crystal clear the Bears were right not to give him a big-money contract.

But they could have franchised him for a year. And they had enough cap space to do it. One can't help but believe Mitch Trubisky's first season would have been a lot better with Jeffery as an option on one side.

Anyway, I still believe Pace should share the blame. But the reality is, the Bears are highly unlikely to tear everything up again at the end of this campaign. The fans started to speak with their actions on Sunday, with 10,145 no-shows for the Bears' resumption of the forever divisional rivalry with the Lions.

The home team only plays two more games at home this season and they are against two of the only three teams in the league that have a worse record than the Bears - the Browns and the 49ers. If there were a great deal of empty seats on Sunday afternoon, just wait until those stellar match-ups.

And don't look now but the Hawks have won a couple games in a row. The pivot to caring most about hockey will happen especially early in the winter sports season this time around.


Comments welcome.

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