Just as Cleveland fans were wiping their brows in relief that their beloved franchise safely selected Myles Garrett, Bears fans suddenly recoiled when news broke that they, not San Francisco, would be picking 2nd overall. The shock was only bolstered when it was revealed the cost of moving from pick 3 to pick 2:
- Bears 2017 1st RD
- Bears 2017 3rd RD
- Bears 2017 4th RD
- Bears 2018 3rd RD
The transition from surprise to outrage was fully complete when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the Bears had selected quarterback Mitchell Trubisky out of North Carolina. While non-Chicago-fans wrongly credited new 49ers GM John Lynch for pulling off a “mega heist” (the trade was executed/arranged by SF executive Paraag Marathe), locals & Bears fans worldwide reacted as we typically do: Overemotional mixtures of anger, excitement, scorn, dismissal, and/or surrender.
While fans are absolutely permitted to adjust their collars in worry over the high toll paid to move up one slot, I believe all of us, especially Bears fans, need to use this as a learning moment and perhaps an opportunity to grow into understanding what it takes to be an elite franchise.
In an NFL Draft era fueled almost solely by internet speculation, the word to learn is “misinformation.” Our election and current commander-in-chief (God help us all) should serve as warnings to all of us that media sway, fake leaks, planted rumors, and baseless sensationalism are realities that stir our culture with a surprising amount of force, and when reduced to the petri dish that is the NFL Draft, the game plays out in a similar fashion. It’s getting very, very difficult to take anything Ryan Pace says to the media seriously, and it’s not because he’s adversarial or flippant – quite the opposite.
He’s simply executing his role in being a professional in obfuscation.
Deshone Kizer was the only quarterback the Bears openly visited with by utilising a rule to court local talent more intensely than is typically permitted. Kizer, however, may have said it best when asked when asked if the Bears had real interest in him or were just posturing:
“It’s their job as professionals to not allow me to know anything.” – Deshone Kizer
The same can be said for the Bears and their intention not to provide anything of substance when the microphones are hot, and that modus operandi has culminated in two aggressive draft trades in two years, moving up to #9 for Leonard Floyd and #2 for Mitchell Trubisky.
Some weren’t convinced. Pundits on WSCR and elsewhere theorized that the selection was a precursor to a trade with Cleveland, essentially holding Trubisky hostage to demand a king’s ransom from a more covetous party. That was not the case. Pace coveted the Mentor, OH native, and set his sights on him from the shadows.
Rich Campbell speculated gently back in March that the Bears interest was more than modest:
Ryan Pace expanded on that speculation in his press conference last night:
(We saw) him live multiple times. A lot of times just sitting in the stands with a disguise on. (Laughs) But — no, I’m joking. But we went out there, had a private workout. Had dinner with him the night before. Obviously we had the combine experience, pro day experience. But we — myself, Coach (John) Fox, (offensive coordinator) Dowell (Loggains), (quarterbacks coach) Dave Ragone and (director of player personnel) Josh Lucas all flew into Chapel Hill and (had a) private dinner, private workout. We had a lot of time with him during that experience. – Ryan Pace
Many fans have come forth with anxiety over equating value. Trubisky is somewhat of a mystery to most, so why was Pace so enamored? Other teams weren’t willing to pay such a price were they?
This is in addition to the trades that happened later in the draft: Kansas City and Houston both gave up multiple 1st round picks to move to the 10th and 12th overall selections where they took Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson respectively. Ryan Pace, meanwhile, gave up two 3rd rounders and a 4th, yet the more emotional fans still consider it a massive failure.
Let’s talk about this for a moment.
Bears fans are by nature conservative, emotional, and heavy-handed with their criticisms. In the spectrum of fan personalities, the ones that have prevailed for years are waving the flags of skepticism, dismissal, and of course “meatball” syndrome. With that in mind, a GM who is young is “inexperienced;” an expensive trade up in the draft isn’t bold, it’s “reckless;” and a young QB prospect isn’t a “possible franchise cornerstone,” he’s a “risk that was never worth taking.”
Perspective counts for something. While we don’t have any clear idea if Trubisky will be an All-Pro, I think some may profit from changing the flavor of their mindset away from outrage. It’s not always better to keep trading down, to keep hoarding picks, to be conservative and concise. Let us all remember:
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, and I hate that expression, but it works for this moment. Let’s talk a little about why Ryan Pace wanted Mitch Trubisky so much, and why embracing the bold nature of his acquisition may serve you well going forward.
Talking to him won’t impress you at first. His kind eyes peer out over an underbitten, steel-carved jawline, and his voice radiates respectful midwest manners. There isn’t a bastion of wit or deep well of scholarly magic to unearth (at least from what I can tell), but ask him about football. Ask him about managing an offense. Ask him about every position on the field, and Trubisky will open up in vast detail.
He’s a good soldier, serving behind undrafted Marquise Williams for years before taking over the starting job and setting school records for passing yards, overall yards, and passing touchdowns in a single season. He led the Tar Heels to a monster road victory in Florida State, ending the 12th-ranked Seminoles 22-game home win streak.
Trubisky has flaws – not a lot of film, he’s got to adjust to the speed of the NFL game, and of course mechanics in footwork and reading defenses, but he is by all accounts a quick learner and the ceiling is by his own words “sky high.”
Bears fans aren’t used to this. Trading up for a quarterback, picking in the top 5, and considering how disappointing Cutler’s Bears career was, the prospect of betting it all on one guy is a scary prospect.
That said, Ryan Pace’s role was to shake up the status quo. His hiring was in conjunction with the franchise burning down the draft failures of the past and, on occasion, taking risks that former General Managers wouldn’t have. Jerry Angelo didn’t have the stones to trade up in round one. Ryan Pace has done it two drafts in a row.
I’m not asking you to trust the Bears or blindly believe in Mitch Trubisky, but maybe ask yourself if being in unfamiliar waters is such a bad thing.