The Chicago Bears turnaround in 2018 can be attributed to many things. However, it starts with general manager Ryan Pace, who made a number of big moves this past offseason to make the Bears a contender once again.
Many were critical of Pace for what he had previously done with the Bears. He signed Mike Glennon and Dion Sims in one offseason. At the time, the negative criticism was deserved. There is a chance those moves were all apart of the plan, however.
Having enough cap space to make a trade and sign a superstar like Khalil Mack. Having the courage to trade up for a franchise quarterback. The list goes on and on at this point. If the Bears win the NFC North or make the playoffs, no one would be more deserving of the executive of the year award than Ryan Pace.
Here, I will attempt to rank his top five moves from this past offseason. Feel free to Tweet or comment your top five moves as well!
Let’s get into the list.
5. Signing WR Allen Robinson
Some people may be a bit surprised about the Allen Robinson signing being on the list, but it’s important for a few reasons. The first being that the Bears did not have a true No. 1 receiver before Pace brought in Robinson.
Yes, Pace did sign Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton, but Robinson, when healthy, allows the Bears offense to function most efficiently. Opposing defenses have no choice, but to respect Robinson. If they don’t? Well, then you have games like the one Robinson had a few weeks ago against the Detriot Lions.
That day, Robinson had six catches for 133 yards and two touchdowns. Again, teams are forced to account for Robinson at all times, which makes life easier for Miller and Gabriel. Make no mistake about it, Robinson is one of the most important pieces in the Bears’ offense.
4. Bringing Back Bryce Callahan
Here is another move that is high on my list, that may not be on someone else’s. While the Bears improved pass rush has made the Bears’ secondary look even better, the unit does deserve some credit for their stellar play this season.
“Nickel” is, by far, the most common personnel group used by defenses in today’s NFL. That’s where having a solid slot corner comes into play. Bryce Callahan has made himself a lot of money this offseason with his dominant play.
After having injury issues, his first two seasons, Callahan has put it all together in 2018. He has a career-high h 36 tackles, two sacks, six pass deflections, and two interceptions. More importantly, he has played in every game for the Bears this season.
Pace refused to let Callahan get away and so far, the move has paid off big time.
3. Keeping Vic Fangio on Staff
While Vic Fangio’s prevent defense still drives most of us insane, he is still one of the best defensive minds in professional football. After Pace built a talented unit around him, Fangio has returned the favor by coaching and being responsible for the best defense in the NFL.
Pace keeping Fangio showed the defense that they were the most important unit on the Bears. Boy has that proven to be true this season. While the offense has been solid under head coach Matt Nagy, they have had their ups and downs this season.
Thankfully, the defense has been there to pick up the offense. Take the game against the Arizona Cardinals for example. The Bears’ defense won that game almost singlehandedly. The unit had a ton of confidence heading into 2018 because Pace brought back their leader and mentor in Vic Fangio.
Then they added Khalil Mack, which brings me to the next move on this list.
2. Khalil Mack Trade
No, this move is not number one on my list for a few reasons. However, this trade will go down as one of the best in Chicago Bears history, maybe even NFL history.
Pace put the Bears in a position to be able to acquire a player like Mack. How? First, by creating cap space and second by being good at the art of negotiation. There were many other teams who wanted Mack, including several in the NFC alone, but Pace eventually was able to get a deal done.
The Mack trade changed the Bears’ plans. It made them relevant and ready to win now. You don’t get a chance to add Hall of Fame players often, but that’s exactly what the Bears were able to do thanks to Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders. Have fun with that late first round pick, Jon. Suckers!
Mack has elevated the Bears defense to a new level. The unit was good without him. With him, they could be something special.
1. Hiring Matt Nagy
When Pace brought in John Fox he did a good job of changing the culture in the locker room. When Pace decided to fire Fox and hire the Andy Reid disciple Matt Nagy it changed the culture of the Chicago Bears as an organization.
Not only has Nagy kept the positive locker room presence, he has made it even better, while also holding coaches, players, and other staff members accountable. Nagy has also made the Bears’ offense into one of the most dynamic units in the NFL.
The thing about Nagy is, he is a good guy first, which in turn makes it easier for him to be a good football coach. So far, then he looks like the right man for the job. Of course, the sample size is small, but Pace again deserves credit for identifying Nagy from the start.
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