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SportsMonday: The Bears' Dysfunctional Draft

I considered writing about the Cubs today but the bottom line is, they arrived at the end of April last night a tiny, tiny bit ahead of where they started the season. They are 13-12 and atop the NL Central. They have a few little worries but come on, has anything that has happened so far shaken anyone's belief they will win their diminished division and return to the playoffs?

In other words, four weeks in, everything is still the same.

So let's talk some more about the Bears and laughingstock general manager Ryan Pace.

I have a few theories about how last week's draft fiasco went down. First, it seems clear that Pace has allowed himself to repress last season entirely. If he doesn't remember that his team went 3-13, he absolves himself of responsibility for at least beginning to refill a completely depleted roster.

And so he traded away a big chunk of this draft, and an important pick next year, because he was insecure about being able to draft who he wanted with the third pick (and he was wrong - the Niners had no offers to move the second pick) to move up one slot.

Then, in addition to quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, rated by no other NFL team other than maybe the Cleveland Browns as a top-5 talent, he drafted three lower division players and a safety who has suffered two major injuries in the last three years.

And that was it, five picks.

The Bears' divisional rivals, the Lions, Packers and Vikings of course, all went the opposite route. They all had better seasons last year than the Bears and they all had better prospects for the coming season going into the draft and yet the Lions executed nine draft picks, the Packers grabbed 10 and the Vikings made 11 big picks.

Those teams acknowledged what anyone with an ounce of drafting sense knows - that the process is as inexact as can be and that a team must maximize its number of picks because it will always hit on some picks and miss on others.

How did Pace miss this lesson at general managers school?

Second, a fan has to suspect that the rumors are true, that Pace and coach John Fox are at odds. And one would think it would only take a little bit of reassurance from a McCaskey that the ownership family would stick with Pace past this season no matter what for the GM to hatch a plan in which the team, with virtually no immediate help coming from this draft, struggles again this season. That would give Pace plenty of leeway to fire Fox early in 2018.

A fan would hope that even for the McCaskeys, who love to speak of their love of the Bears but mostly hang onto the team because it is a cash machine for the double-digit members of the family who work there and receive ownership shares, this plan would be embarrassingly obvious. But firing Pace and Fox would force ownership to eat chunks of two contracts and we all know how likely it is it will do that.

The other thing that goes unsaid here is that Pace hired Fox! Yes there are rumors that Fox wasn't Pace's first choice but he obviously went along with the move. How would he get to fire him and continue on without consequences?

What a mess. But literally scores of dim-witted commentators have agreed with each other during the past few days that if Trubisky turns into a Pro Bowl quarterback, all of this stuff will be forgotten. That will not happen.

There are tens of thousands of actual Bears fans who pay close attention to the draft. And they know that Pace made a fool of himself over the weekend. Not only did the general manager damage the team, he damaged Trubisky's chances to succeed whenever he starts playing by failing to get him enough good teammates. Not complicated!

I said this during the podcast Friday but I'll say it again. My only hope in the aftermath of all this is that the Bears will continue to suck over the next few years, a wide swath of season-ticket holders will bow out and empty seats will force the McCaskeys to re-evaluate ownership.

A pipe dream I know, but hey, stranger things have happened.


Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

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Posted on Oct 22, 2021