Bears: How George McCaskey ordered U-turn to lock down Ryan Pace


Bears: How George McCaskey ordered U-turn to lock down Ryan Pace

As Bears chairman George McCaskey visited with Dan Jiggetts and myself during "Bears Recap" Monday on Comcast SportsNet, we asked him about the interview two floors above the TV studio at Halas Hall that eventually led to Ryan Pace being introduced as General Manager January 9th.

"Throughout the process, Ernie (Accorsi, the Bears' consultant throughout their search for a new GM and head coach) kept hearing good things about this 'kid,'  he called him. The more he heard, the more positive the feedback was," McCaskey recalled.

"As we went through the process, before we interviewed Ryan, he was just kind of 'out there,' and I didn't know that much about him at all.  But (Bears president and CEO) Ted Phillips has a good relationship with Mickey Loomis, the Saints general manager, and Mickey spoke very highly of him and didn't want to lose him.

[MORE: McCaskey believes Bears are heading in the right direction]

"As the interview concluded, we all looked at each other as Ryan was walking down the hall, saying, 'Now, we'd better not let him get away.'

"So we called. His car was on its way to the airport and we had the car turn around. So it worked out very well."

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Pace tells a similar story in the wake of his interview a few days later with John Fox for the head coaching job, but that call came when Fox was already about to board his return flight to Denver. Pace would meet him out there a couple of days later. A week after Pace's introductory press conference, Fox was named his head coach.

Pace was the fourth candidate interviewed by McCaskey, Phillips and Accorsi. The others later had changes in status with their clubs. Brian Gaine was elevated from director of pro personnel to director of player personnel with the Texans. Former Bears Director of Pro Scouting (thought by many to be the favorite because of his familiarity with the organization) was promoted from director of player personnel to director of football operations with the Chiefs. Lake Dawson was fired by the Titans as vice president of player personnel at the end of January, and eventually landed in the Browns' personnel department.

Bears still have much to prove after disappointing loss to Patriots

Bears still have much to prove after disappointing loss to Patriots

 Beating the, arguably, best coach and quarterback pairing in NFL history is a difficult enough task. Trying to do it while allowing two touchdowns on special teams? Good luck. 
The Bears will leave Soldier Field frustrated with their 38-31 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday for a number of reasons, but top of the list will be Cordarrelle Patterson’s 95-yard kickoff return score and a blocked Pat O’Donnell punt that was raced into the end zone by Kyle Van Noy. A special teams unit that had been solid all year — and forced a fumble on a Patterson kickoff return in the first quarter Sunday — suddenly became a disaster, allowing an uncharacteristically undisciplined Patriots side back into the game, and then ahead in it. 
Add in an inaccurate game from Mitch Trubisky — who completed 26 of 50 passes for 333 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions — and an uneventful afternoon for Khalil Mack and the pass rush, and the Bears had to scratch and claw to hang with New England. 
Interestingly, after all week hearing from Bears coaches and players about how they couldn’t let the Patriots take them out of their own game, it felt like Bill Belichick and Tom Brady did exactly that. Mack frequently dropped into coverage — but so did Leonard Floyd, so maybe it wasn’t all about Mack’s injured ankle. While Brady frequently got the ball out quick, when he didn’t he was rarely pressured. 
And on offense, Taylor Gabriel had the same number of targets (one) as offensive lineman Bradley Sowell until midway through the fourth quarter. Trubisky dazzled with his legs, covering over 70 yards on an eight-yard touchdown run and dancing his way to a 39-yard scramble that set up a touchdown in the third quarter. 
But Trubisky’s struggles were clear, with the second-year quarterback throwing two ill-advised passes that should’ve been picked off in the end zone and then underthrowing Anthony Miller in the fourth quarter, allowing Patriots safety Jonathan Jones to make a tremendous interception. New England drove 96 yards after that pick into the end zone, with Brady taking apart a defense that missed two tackles on a 55-yarder to Josh Gordon, extinguishing any hope the Bears had of a comeback.
While Trubisky did lead a scoring drive after Adrian Amos assisted Kyle Fuller for an interception, cutting the deficit to seven. And Trubisky nearly pulled off a miracle with a Hail Mary to Kevin White, which was completed just shy of the end zone. 
The loss dropped the Bears to 3-3 and heaps plenty of pressure on Matt Nagy’s side to win seemingly-winnable games in the next three weeks: At home against the New York Jets, on the road against the Buffalo Bills and at home against the Detroit Lions. But then again: When the Jets come to town next weekend, it’ll have been nearly a month since the Bears’ last win. How the Bears fare over these next three games will be a clear window into if this team is a legitimate contender or one that faded after a strong start. 

WATCH: Mitchell Trubisky runs like Michael Vick for 8-yard touchdown

WATCH: Mitchell Trubisky runs like Michael Vick for 8-yard touchdown

The New England Patriots defense wasn’t giving Mitchell Trubisky many options through the air, so he decided to take matters into his own hands at Soldier Field.

The young quarterback’s legs were the Bears’ most-effective weapon in the first quarter, as Trubisky led the team with 35 rushing yards on four carries in the opening period of play.

He capped it off with an eight-yard touchdown scramble that had him looking like Michael Vick on the field.

The Bears will need to have a more well-rounded offensive attack to keep up with teams like the Patriots, but Trubisky found what was working in the first quarter.

Perhaps most importantly, he’s been smart and safe with his running, opting to slide and go to the ground on his big plays to avoid any big hits.

His legs continue to make this offense more dynamic, to keep up with top-notch opponents like New England.