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.

Anthony Miller sports Bears uniform at NFLPA Rookie Premiere

Anthony Miller sports Bears uniform at NFLPA Rookie Premiere

Anthony Miller has quickly become a fan favorite on social media. He has the confidence and swagger found in most top wide receivers and it comes through on his Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Miller was one of 40 players in attendance at the 2018 NFLPA Rookie Premiere where he not only learned about the business and marketing side of football, but also suited up in his Bears gameday uniform for the first time. Of course, he shared the moment on Twitter:

Panini America, a sports collectible company, snapped a picture of Miller with fellow rookie receiver Calvin Ridley (Falcons) and quarterback Mason Rudolph (Steelers):

Miller has become something of a standout for the Bears despite not playing a single snap. He's expected to have a big role in an offense that has several new pieces and roles that are up for grabs.

Miller will compete with former first-round pick Kevin White and free-agent addition Taylor Gabriel for reps opposite Allen Robinson. Miller has the necessary skill set to play as both an outside receiver and in the slot which should give him an even greater opportunity to be on the field quite a bit.

The Bears first three draft picks are all vying for starting jobs in 2018. Roquan Smith (first round) is a lock to start next to Danny Trevathan and James Daniels (second round) will start at guard. Miller should make it three-for-three in a draft class that could end up the best of Ryan Pace's tenure.

Ryan Pace ranked among bottom-third of NFL general managers

USA Today

Ryan Pace ranked among bottom-third of NFL general managers

Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace is having what many believe is his best offseason since taking the job in 2015, but after three seasons and only 14 wins, he needs a big year in 2018 to justify the confidence ownership has in him. 

According to a recent breakdown of all 32 general managers, Pace ranks among the worst decision-makers in the league.

No. 23: Ryan Pace, Chicago Bears

There’s only so much you can accomplish in one spring. The problem is that Pace let himself accumulate so many needs to begin with. He needs Trubisky and Nagy to springboard a fourth-year turnaround. 

The rankings didn't include six new GM hires, which makes Pace's positioning even more troubling.

Even though the Bears haven't seen wins on the field, Pace has done a solid job through three draft classes and appears to have the right coaching staff in place. His first hire, John Fox, was a calculated move by a rookie general manager to have an experienced football guy to lean on. Now, several offseasons later, the team is starting to take on his identity.

Despite all the talent Pace has added through the draft and the slow but steady transformation of the team's overall culture, it's a win-now business and if his blueprint doesn't start producing more wins than losses, it will be hard to justify more time and patience for his plan to develop.