LAKE FOREST – If he was rooting for No. 10 over No. 9 during the last month of the Bears’ quarterback competition, could you really blame him?
Ryan Pace’s most high-profile draft pick during his tenure in Chicago was Mitchell Trubisky with the second overall selection in 2017. After three inconsistent seasons by the quarterback, it was the general manager who earned a fair amount of scorn.
If the player he had to bring into compete with Trubisky – veteran Nick Foles – were to win it, this could be perceived as another knock on Pace’s resume.
So when Matt Nagy made his decision to go with the incumbent starter instead of the recently acquired signal caller, was there some relief on the part of Pace?
The GM insists there was not.
“There wasn’t relief at all,” said Pace when asked that question directly. “The whole time, honestly, I just wanted what was best for our team. I guess I had relief once Matt had clarity on the decision that he wanted to make. So whatever way it went, I just wanted Matt to have clarity and confidence in that decision.
“So once I realized Matt had come to that, it was ‘OK, lets roll.'”
Indeed the Bears will do so with Trubisky, who remains the team’s starter after an offseason of questions and competition. Pace said that he talked with Nagy throughout the process of deciding the starter, but the decision to go with No. 10 was strictly the decision of the head coach.
The general manager did agree with a lot of the reasons that Nagy selected Trubisky to start. He pointed out improvement in stressful situations in practice, his tempo running the offense, and his demeanor during meetings that showed stronger leadership.
Pace described it “as feel of confidence and comfort” that Trubisky had in the position, developed over what was a difficult year for the quarterback in which he went from the face of the franchise to fighting for his job.
“Whatever word you want to use – calloused, hardened, whatever it is, Mitch naturally, as a young player whose gone through what he’s gone through, he’s naturally gained a lot of that,” said Pace. “You can see it, and I mean this in a good way, it’s not like he’s not walking around here mad all the time. It’s just more of a focused, calloused feel to him that I think you need to play quarterback in this league.
“Not just in Chicago, but just to play quarterback in the league in general, and I think he’s developed a lot of that.”
Now the questions if this can translate to results in the regular season, which have escaped him a number of times in his previous three seasons. How much time he’ll get to do that is also unclear, with Nagy unwilling to speculate how quickly he’d go to Foles if Trubisky struggles out of the gate.
For now, what Pace saw the last month is why he’s keeping the faith in the quarterback that he thought so highly of to move up and select over three years ago.
“The way he responded. Put yourself in his shoes and the offseason that he had coming off last season where there was a lot of blame to go around last year. We could have been better in a lot of areas. Of course, being the quarterback, he takes the brunt of a lot of that,” said Pace. “Then we trade for a quarterback, and then we don’t exercise a fifth-year option, and all these things happen.
“The moment camp started, the moment he walked in the building, you just felt a different presence and a different mindset, and that carried him throughout camp. Just proud of the way he’s conducted himself.”
Perhaps now he’ll be ready to prove Pace right after all.