Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace seems to like the roster he has in place.
On the one hand, if you can’t admire your own handiwork, then you’re already operating from behind the 8-ball. But on the other hand, *gestures in the general direction of a roster with holes, problems, and questions at a bunch of key positions.*
Pace doesn’t speak often. But when he does, I try to give it a good listen. And even though Chicago’s GM is a master of using many words to say little, I’ve pulled some interesting highlights regarding his belief in Andy Dalton, the dreams for Justin Fields, and what’s up with Teven Jenkins’ back. I’ve also added commentary for context, perspective, depth, and analysis. Enjoy!
Pace, Vets Believe in Dalton
To begin, Pace outlined why he trusts Dalton to be a successful bridge to Fields, highlighting what his teammates are offering up in discussions with the GM.
“There’s so many veteran players that have come up to me and have made comments about Andy Dalton and what he’s doing in practices, in the locker room, and in the huddle,” Pace said. “All those little things that I think we’re going to see pay off as we get into the season.”
This was a point of discussion when Allen Robinson II brought it up last month, too. The concept of veteran players backing someone who has skin in the game and a lengthy résumé isn’t something we should ignore. Successful teams pull from the same side of the rope. And for whatever it is worth, veteran players tend to have each other’s backs. It’s only natural to want to pull alongside your peers. But as Pace points out, everyone is also excited to see what Fields brings to the table whenever his time comes. So take that for what it’s worth.
On the field, Pace rattles off Dalton’s experience, decision-making skills, the ever-present intangibles, and leadership ability as reasons to believe he’ll succeed in his role as QB1. We’ll see how that plays out when the lights go on in 10 days.
Fields and Dreams
It is fascinating to hear Pace dish on what makes Dalton great in one breath, then drool over Fields in the next. Seriously, Pace started an answer with “We’re confident in Andy” and ended it with “We’re excited about Justin. I’m more excited than anybody.” Awkward much?
Anyway … of course Pace is excited about Fields. If he wasn’t, then why would he trade next year’s first-round pick in a deal to get Fields in the first place. Nevertheless, neither the fact that Pace used future draft capital to get his guy nor his excitement levels will move the Bears off their current developmental plan and accelerate Fields’ start time. But when Fields does start, Pace explains what you’ll see (even though he won’t say when you’ll get it):
“We obviously knew about the arm talent, the athleticism, the work ethic. But when you get him out in an NFL environment, he stays calm in the moment. His heart rate stays low, he processes fast. He goes through progressions. I think you see a lot of young quarterbacks who kind of stare down an intended target. You see him working through his progressions, which I think is really good to see from a young quarterback.”
This is the type of QB description you dream of when you’re a Bears fan. So … why isn’t this guy starting in Week 1?
Talking Through Tevin Jenkins’ Back Issues
When Teven Jenkins was missing in the opening days (and weeks) of training camp, his back issues not believed to be leading to a lengthy absence. Instead, Jenkins has since had successful back surgery and been placed on IR to start the year. So, how did we get here in the first place? Let’s allow Pace to tell the story.
“When (Jenkins) showed up for training camp, he was experiencing different symptoms than he ever had in college. So, we kinda worked through that,” Pace said. “We tried to go through all of the natural processes. At the end of the day, (Jenkins’ back injury) did require surgery. It was a common surgery. The good thing about it? As soon as we did it, those symptoms went away. So we feel good about it.”
Evidently, Jenkins’ back issues were different from whatever was on the pre-draft medical report. That’s worth noting, as it would be a rough look to trade up to draft someone knowing he had an injury that would keep him out of camp and the preseason. The reason it took so long to put Jenkins out of action was because the team was trying to let “natural processes” play out. And when they didn’t, that is when surgery for repair became an option. But the best news to come of this is that whatever the issues were apparently “went away.” Seriously, that’s wonderful news if the successful surgery put Jenkins in a healthy place (even if he will miss an extended amount of time).
Even still … the Bears should play it cautiously with Jenkins. As one of the most prized prospects of the Bears’ draft class, Jenkins shouldn’t be rushed back onto the field. If it happens, great. Consider it gravy. In the meantime, hope that Jason Peters can find the fountain of youth and hold down the fort while Jenkins is unavailable.
Odds and Ends
• Don’t get me wrong. I love the public push GM Ryan Pace and Head Coach Matt Nagy are giving rookie Day 3 pick Larry Borom. But don’t set too high of a bar for a player who hasn’t yet stepped foot on a football game for a regular-season contest:
#Bears GM Ryan Pace says they had Larry Borom and Teven Jenkins graded similarly in the draft.
Pace says Borom has exceeded expectations a little bit.
— Sean Hammond (@sean_hammond) September 1, 2021
• Remember, the Bears had Jenkins graded as a first-round caliber prospect. I suppose that if Jenkins’ grade pans out, and Borom follows in that path, then getting a first-round talent with a Day 3 pick is an absolute steal. It’s just that I feel uncomfortable putting the cart in front of the horse, even if I like what Borom can bring to the table.
• It might be a bit until Breshad Perriman officially joins the mix, as he’ll have to go through COVID protocols as a free agent signing. But at least the reasoning behind signing Perriman is sound:
Ryan Pace confirms the Bears are in the process of signing WR Breshad Perriman. Pace's initial comment when asked about Perriman: "speed."
— Jeff Dickerson (@DickersonESPN) September 1, 2021
• Speed has been lacking the last few years from the Bears. Chicago’s pass-catchers have held their own in trying to catch contested passes. But it would be nice to see a QB throw to someone with speed who separates from DBs.
• I’ve groveled for years about how the Cubs have mishandled using the IL, so I’ll take some solace in what might be some manipulation of football’s IR rules to ensure Danny Trevathan’s health:
Bears GM Ryan Pace on LB Danny Trevathan: “He’s had a knee that’s been bothersome this camp.”
Goal is to take advantage of IR rules (can come back after 3 weeks) to get him to 100%.
— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) September 1, 2021
• For more from Pace, you can watch his press conference in full here: