Bears

Leadership lessons Ryan Pace learned from time with Sean Payton, Saints

Leadership lessons Ryan Pace learned from time with Sean Payton, Saints

Every organization in the NFL is working hard to adapt their workflows while under COVID-19 restrictions. Rookie minicamps have already been missed. Organizations are still unable to meet as a full team, and that’s obviously a challenge. But Bears GM Ryan Pace may have a leg up due to the lessons he learned while working in the New Orleans Saints’ front office.

Pace joined Mike Florio on Pro Football Talk’s podcast “PFT PM” to explain exactly how that time in New Orleans helped to shape him as a leader, both in “normal” times and times of crisis.

“There’s no excuses in our league,” Pace said on the podcast. “That happened in New Orleans during Katrina-- really every time a hurricane came towards that city, we adapted.

“What I felt from the leadership from (Saints head coach) Sean (Payton) and (Saints GM) Mickey (Loomis) is there was never an excuse. It was: let’s adapt and let’s adjust, and that’s what we did. From 2005 to 2006, I mean that was a major shift in that team under trying times.”

Pace is referring to the Saints firing Jim Haslett and hiring Sean Payton, and installing Payton’s new systems, all while recovering from Hurricane Katrina. The Saints were incredibly successful working through those hard times too, improving from 3-13 in 2005 to 10-6 and NFC South winners in 2006.

Beyond learning to not let hard times affect his team’s success on the field, Pace says he learned a lot about how to run a team from Payton and Loomis.

“First of all, (Payton’s) very aggressive, he's not afraid to make hard decisions. He’s decisive and Mickey’s the same way: aggressive and decisive, no regrets, never looks back, not afraid to think outside the box, but also very conscious of the culture of that team.

“I think any time you drift away from that-- and it’s easy to do, and enticing to do-- but usually when you do that, once you realize you’ve done that to the locker room, the damage is already done. You try to correct yourself or police a player, the damage is already done in the locker room. So I think it’s being aggressive with the moves you make, not looking back, operating with decisiveness, but then being very conscious of the culture in the locker room.

“It’s a fine line. 12-4 to 8-8, it’s a fine line I think, because the people, the staff, the people in your building are conscious of that.”

Pace has certainly acted decisively when building his roster, trading up to draft Mitchell Trubisky, Leonard Floyd, Anthony Miller and David Montgomery.

But he later says, there’s more nuance than simply acting decisively to become an effective leader.

“When you’re making a hard decision, what’s best for the organization?” Pace said. “Not letting your ego get in the way because ‘Hey, this was your idea,’ ‘You selected this player,’ whatever it is, what’s best for the team? And sometimes those are decisions when you have to remove emotions.”

Pace has shown the ability to set aside his ego to make those hard decisions too. Most recently he opted not to pick up Trubisky’s fifth-year option. He already cut Leonard Floyd. And after he didn’t offer Kyle Fuller a fifth-year option, he paid even more to keep Fuller since the cornerback proved he deserved to stay.

“For me, to be honest, I think that’s come pretty natural and pretty easy, and I think it’s because of my experience in New Orleans.”

RELATED: Why Ryan Pace ultimately decided to trade for Nick Foles

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Under Center Podcast: Rotoworld's Josh Norris on Ryan Pace's 2020 draft

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USA Today

Under Center Podcast: Rotoworld's Josh Norris on Ryan Pace's 2020 draft

JJ Stankevitz is joined by draft expert Josh Norris of NBC Sports and Rotoworld, as they take a deep dive into the Bears' 2020 NFL draft class featuring Cole Kmet and Jaylon Johnson. They also dive into the Bears' offseason moves and can the newly acquired players from the draft and free agency make an instant impact for the 2020 season.


(1:23) - Overall impression of what the Bears accomplished in the 2020 draft


(5:00) - Cole Kmet vs Adam Shaheen


(9:37) - Was Jaylon Johnson a 1st round talent


(15:00) - Ryan Pace's 5th round selections


(21:10) - Biggest issues with the Bears draft

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NFL reveals football helmet mouth shields to prevent COVID-19 spread

NFL reveals football helmet mouth shields to prevent COVID-19 spread

The majority of the football world got its first glimpse of a new mouth shield developed by Oakley on Monday. The shield was designed to help protect players from the COVID-19 pandemic while they’re on the field.

According to ESPN, there is currently no mandate for players to wear the protective shield, however the NFL’s medical experts are advocating its use.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Bears news and analysis.

The shields have already been distributed to the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers for feedback, according to the ESPN report. That report mentions the two biggest concerns about the shields so far are visibility and breathability.

Most importantly, the NFL's engineering committee Dr. Jeff Crandall told ESPN that the shields prevent direct transmission of droplets from players’ mouths.

Per the report, Oakley tested the shields by spraying fluid particles to mimic droplets expelled by players.

"I don't know that there's a direct percentage that anyone's come up with because a laboratory is not the on-field environment, obviously," Crandall told ESPN. "There's lots of things that players do on the fields that they're not easily replicating [in] the laboratory, but it is a significant blockage to transmission of droplets. There is no straight pathway through the face shield or visor for a droplet to be transmitted."

While Oakley is the official supplier of the shields for the NFL, the report mentions that players may end up other brands that are developing similar products.

"Just like everything we do, whether we're talking about better cleats or better performing helmets, it's all about something that's safer and yet also protects and in many cases enhances performance," Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL's chief medical officer, told ESPN. "That's the same mantra and the same sort of approach that we're taking here. I'm really pleased with how the work is going along.

“We're not at a finished product yet. Like most things in health safety, there's really no finish line here. So we're hoping to continue to innovate and improve as we go along. But we're excited about where we are and excited about the potential role this may play in risk mitigation on the field."


RELATED: Here's where things stand with the 2020 NFL season and COVID-19

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