After two dismal seasons under coach John Fox following two dismal seasons under coach Marc Trestman, Bears fans – and their team’s chairman – might be forgiven for a blunt question about when their football team would return to watchability:
“So how long is all this going to take?”
Best guess after Fox, GM Ryan Pace and Chairman George McCaskey all discussed their team and its situation: It had better not take too much longer.
McCaskey, who fired GM Jerry Angelo in 2011 after an 8-8 season and four playoff misses in the five seasons since the Super Bowl, who fired Trestman and GM Phil Emery in 2015 after just two catastrophic seasons, who acknowledged that his 90-plus mother Virginia was “pissed off” after the Emery-Trestman fiasco, said that he had assured Pace there would be patience with a Bears makeover.
“[Pace] talked from the beginning about how this was going to take time, about how we needed to be patient,.” McCaskey said during a media session at Halas Hall. “I told him I’m not a patient person but I promised him that I would be patient.
“With all the adversity that we’ve had, I like the steady hand that he and John have had on the team. These guys fought for each other all season. They never pointed fingers. And I think that’s a credit to the type of player that we have. And I think it’s also a credit to John and his coaching staff for keeping them together.
Like I said, I’m not a patient person. But I promised Ryan that I would be patient.”
Whether another losing season would exhaust McCaskey’s patience is something that neither Pace nor Fox are in any mood to find out. Both Pace and Fox privately said before the season that their expectations were far, far higher than both the results and the opinions of outsiders.
[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]
And Pace, who came to the Bears from a successful New Orleans organization, was blunt in ways that were evident not only in what he said, but how he said it.
“I’m honestly extremely disappointed in this season,” Pace said. “But I’m honestly excited going forward. My message to Bears fans is simple: We’re going to get better. We WILL improve. I hear you. But I also understand this is just talk and we’ve got to show actions. We’ve got to show results. I fully get that… .
“My promise to Bears fans, and I really mean this: There’s not a moment that goes by that we’re both not consumed with getting this right. This is unacceptable. It’s painful to deal with. I get it. We’re going to get better. There’s a lot of young players that are going to improve. There’s a lot of players coming back that are going to help us. There’s a lot of things we can do this offseason to make us better.
“I knew this wasn’t an overnight fix. And I think you’ve got to be careful with that sometimes. Sometimes, hey, there’s a little bit of a panic, and oh, you start reaching for bad character guys or big contracts on wrong players. I think we’ve got to be calculated and measured why we’re going through this. And we will be. Patience is hard, and I get that, but we have to prove it on the field.”