So surely, teaming a strong draft with some celebrated additions in free agency was going to push Pace up the power rankings leaderboard … right?
Well, it did … kinda.
Rotoworld’s Patrick Daugherty ranks the NFL’s best general managers, and Pace checks in at No. 23. It’s the latest in an offseason of not-so-flattering headlines for the Bears’ top executive. Back in April, one NFL analyst ranked Pace as the league’s worst general manager. Not too long after that, the team’s front office was ranked ranked among the worst-prepared in a poll of NFL agents shared by the USA Today. These aren’t the kinds of headlines you’d like to read about your team’s top decision-maker after what was believed to be a successful run in free agency and right before the draft.
And while ranking 23rd is better than being dead last, just three of Pace’s peers – Tampa Bay’s Jason Licht, Washington’s Bruce Allen (Doug Williams gets tossed in here, too), and Miami’s Mike Tannenbaum – who are rated lower than Chicago’s GM.
Not to set off any panic alarms, but Pace’s ranking could have been lower. Daugherty left off six lead executives who are either in their first year on the job or are new to their teams. Two of the general managers who were kept off the list – Cleveland’s John Dorsey, along with Dave Gettleman of the New York Giants – each ranked in the top-10 last year. And based on their prior history and track record of success with other teams, both would probably be listed ahead of Pace were they to be included.
Things aren’t totally bleak for the Bears. After all, there is a blueprint for a rapid rise to the top of the leaderboard. Howie Roseman of the Philadelphia Eagles came in at No. 21 in last year’s rankings and jumped all the way up to No. 3 in 2018 after a Super Bowl-winning season. Maybe it’s just one big ole coincidence, but the path Roseman followed sounds an awful lot like what Pace is going through right now.
Inherited a flawed roster with its collective arrow pointing down? Check. Drafted a top-rated college quarterback with the hopes of finding a franchise leader who could be a long-term solution at the game’s most important position? Check. Hired a renowned quarterback-friendly head coach who was an Andy Reid disciple? Check and check. Revamped a sub-par wide receiving corps via free agency and the draft? You bet.
Roseman made the most of his second chance, which is something Pace hopes to accomplish after being given a contract extension and a new lease on a football life earlier in the offseason.