Ryan Pace has hitched his wagon to the future success (or failure) of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, and did so with conviction – a word he so-often used during a late-night press briefing after the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Given the lengths to which the Bears went to hide their interest in Trubisky, and then the aggressiveness with which they went after him, it’s clear that he has been their guy for a long time.
The Chicago Bears general manager held court with the assembled press at Halas Hall late Thursday. You can watch the briefing in its entirety here, via ChicagoBears.com.
Let’s dive into the highlights:
- Front office executives are always on the hunt for a dare-to-be-great moment, and Pace took advantage of his when trading aggressively to move up one spot to ensure Trubisky wasn’t drafted by anyone else. So why go as far as the Bears did in making a deal with the San Francisco 49ers, a team that might have passed on Trubisky in favor of the player it drafted in Stanford’s Solomon Thomas? “If we want to be great, you just can’t sit on your hands,” Pace said. “There are times when you’ve got to be aggressive, and when you have conviction on a guy, you can’t sit on your hands. I just don’t want to be average around here; I want to be great. And these are the moves you have to make.”
- The choice to be active and not passive in acquiring Trubisky was a theme in Pace’s press conference, in which he noted that he has conversations with several teams looking to move up with the intent of drafting a quarterback … and that was in addition to the vibe he was getting about teams aiming to move ahead of the Bears, making a move with the 49ers to grab Trubisky. In the end, it was Pace and the Bears making the boldest move of the night: “I didn’t want to sit on our hands and have some team jump us or not work out when we were this close, within reach of a player that we all really valued,” Pace said “I didn’t want to sit on our hands and risk not getting that player.”
- High expectations come with being “that player,” and Pace didn’t mince words when talking about Trubisky’s upside: “As an organization, we had conviction on this quarterback and his special attributes, and we did what we had to do to get him. His potential to be a championship quarterback … is all we focused on in this move.”
- Moving on, Pace believes the Bears have created a really good situation for Trubisky to develop properly into a professional signal caller. And you can count head coach John Fox as on board with the move. Pace said he and his head coach were “arm-in-arm” in the decision to move up and draft Trubisky, adding that Fox was as excited as he was about the choice. This will be Fox’s first time working with a first-round pick drafted by the team he was coaching since the Denver Broncos drafted Tim Tebow in 2010. Fox inherited Tebow when he joined the Broncos in 2011 after the firing of Josh McDaniels.
- Mike Glennon was hosting a Bears-sponsored NFL Draft party with Pro Bowl running back Jordan Howard when the Bears drafted his replacement with the second overall pick. And despite the pick, Pace remained committed to Glennon being the team’s starting quarterback in 2017. “There’s no quarterback competition when Mitch gets here. Glennon is our starting quarterback. We’ll focus on Mitch’s development and Mike Glennon winning games for the Bears,” Pace said, adding that he talked to Glennon after the deal went down and that he understood the situation – including the fact that he remains QB1 on the depth chart.
- Don’t expect Trubisky to be rushed into action. Pace said there is no timeline or rush to unseat Glennon. We’ll see if that remains to be true when the two go through camp drills at Bourbonnais.
- One of the most notable Pace quotes was comparing Trubisky to the standard of the quarterback Pace worked with during his time with the New Orleans Saints – Drew Brees. Pace said Trubisky had the kind of traits the organization valued in a quarterback. “It’s all the traits as far as leadership, how he is with his teammates, what his work ethic is like, and all the physical traits as well, accuracy. All these top quarterbacks, it’s just their ability to quickly process defense, process coverage, find open targets, not panic under pressure, deliver accurate throws when there’s a noisy pocket and things are collapsing. Those guys all have those traits. Mitch has those traits, Drew has those traits.”
- Pace was able to see some of those traits in person when he watched Trubisky compete against Stanford in the Sun Bowl. Fittingly enough, Trubisky faced the player he was eventually traded for in defensive end Solomon Thomas. “What I like about his personality is he’s even-keeled,” Pace said. “He’s the kind of guy – in a moment of crisis – his heart rate is calm.” Trubisky threw two interceptions in that game, but also engineered a 97-yard drive that pulled the Tar Heels within two before missing out on the game-tying two-point conversion.
- Not to be lost in the shuffle, the Bears paid a hefty price to acquire Trubisky, dealing a third-round pick (67th overall) and the first fourth-round selection (111th), as well as their third round pick in 2018, to land the quarterback. However, Pace said there are avenues (potential trades) that could help recoup picks they lost in Thursday’s trade. The Bears traded down several times to add picks in the 2016 draft, as well as a pick for 2017.