The Chicago Bears took their first steps towards attempting to repair thieir broken franchise by hiring Ryan Pace as their next general manager. Pace comes over from the New Orleans Saints, where he spent the last fourteen years working in their front office, including last year as Director of Player Personnel, essentially working as the assistant general manager to Mickey Loomis.
Pace has Illinois ties — he was a defensive end at Eastern Illinois from 1995-1999 — and is highly regarded in football circles. Most signs had pointed to him remaining with the Saints. He turned down an opportunity to interview with the New York Jets, but the Bears opportunity intrigued him enough to agree to the interview.
Most thought Chris Ballard was the favorite to land the position and apparently the Bears were leaning that way as well, but when they sat down with Pace, they were blown away in the interview and determined that he was their man.
Pace has reportedly jumped right into the job, sitting down minutes after being hired with Arizona Cardinals Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles, who was already at Halas Hall interviewing for the Bears head coaching position.
Pace is the youngest GM in the NFL and he is now assigned the task of turning around the Bears after a disastrous 5-11 campaign. Football experts spent Thursday afternoon applauding the hire and it seems that the Bears have hired a gem, but similar accolades were given to Phil Emery when the Bears hired him three years ago, so no judgments should be made until Pace has had a couple of years on the job.
Pace’s first task will be to hire the Bears’ next head coach, and instant speculation began that the front runner has instantly become Doug Marrone, who was the offensive coordinator with the Saints from 2006-2008 and worked with Pace frequently. Shortly thereafter he is going to have to decide what the franchise will do with quarterback Jay Cutler. No decisions on Cutler will be made until they have a head coach who can also help guide the future of the franchise.
This was a surprising hire, but all signs point to it being a good one.
One thing is clear: The city of Chicago does not have the patience to sit through another regime of underachieving results. Pace will instantly have a lot of pressure on him and his first steps in how he handles the Cutler situation and what he does to fix a defense light on talent is going to give fans plenty of insight into the future of the Bears.