Shouldn't the fates of John Fox and Ryan Pace be interlocked?

Thursday, 23 November 2017, 08:46:32 AM. How has Ryan Pace escaped criticism for his role in this Bears farce? Does nobody realize that his predecessor, Phil Emery, was 22-20 at the same point in his third year.

The main problem with the roster is that there are so many problems with the Bears roster.

One of those issues may have been solved this week when kid general manager finally got around to replacing kicker with a hopefully healthy Cairo Santos. It’s a move that came a week short of ideal — or way wide right of ideal, to be more specific — but Pace has an ever-expanding punch list, and you can’t get to everything in three short years.

Much has been made, correctly, of coach ’s miserable 12-30 record in his tenure with the Bears, but little has been said of the fact that prodigy Pace shares that mark in his tenure as a GM.

Does anyone really know where one guy ends and the other begins? How has Pace escaped criticism for his role in this farce? Does nobody realize that his predecessor, Phil Emery, was 22-20 at the same point in his third year? Things fell apart for Emery and the Bears that season with five losses to close the year at 5-11. Marc Trestman had to go, and Emery was thrown out with him.

So why aren’t Fox and Pace conjoined? Theories abound.

For one, it’s Fox who is the spokesman for the team. He’s the guy interviewed every day and left searching for responses if not answers to all the key questions. Pace is seldom available on the record. He’s smart enough to keep a profile so low that entering the witness-protection program would probably increase it.

Could the Bears be expanding Halas Hall just to give the guy more places to hide?

In the cold-war world of professional football, Emery was the cloak-and-dagger type, most often operating without counsel. Even guys on his staff weren’t always sure what was going on.

Pace is comparatively a sort of “Glasnost Guy,” building consensus or seeking permission, depending on how you look at it.

Ageism is involved here too. Fox is the grizzled veteran who has been there and done that and not done that. Pace was sold to fans as a youthful diamond in the rough with the instinct for finding the right player at the right position. He comes with the capacity to learn on the job versus the guy with no new tricks.

Pace also created a surge of excitement with the perfectly timed — for him — decision to go out and get a quarterback. True or not, the move to draft was seen as against the grain and without his elder coach’s permission. Fox’s timeline be damned, Pace was going to draft the Bears into a new era.

Professional sports, much like organized religion, isn’t based so much on rationality as faith. Fans, players and owners want to believe. Selling hope is a powerful tool.

Never mind that Pace was two years late to the party. OK, that might be unfair given that he was stuck with the ridiculous seven-year, $126.7 million contract extension that Emery bestowed on Jay Cutler.

But if you look at what the Bears did this season, why didn’t they dump Cutler a year ago and pay whatever it cost to move up in the draft for ? Cutler would have cost $18 million in dead cap money. Pace spent more than that this year on Mike Glennon.

The Bears slouch to Philadelphia on Sunday to match up with Wentz, former Bears wide receiver and a remarkably balanced Eagles team that could expose the talent gap in the roster Pace put together.

Jeffery, to be clear, wanted out of Chicago and would be a sullen if not disruptive presence in the locker room here. It’s understandable they didn’t want him around at the price he would have cost. But why didn’t they replace him?

Wide receiver has been a disaster for the Bears. Did Pace really believe the combination of guys like Josh Bellamy and since-injured Cam Meredith and Kevin White could cover for the loss of Jeffery? Was signing Markus Wheaton to a two-year, $11 million deal with $6 million guaranteed a good idea? He’s no Eddie Royal.

At some point, Pace will have to answer for his free-agent bombs, but only if Trubisky doesn’t work out. Pace is lauded for his drafts with Eddie Goldman, Leonard Floyd, Cody Whitehair, Jordan Howard, Trubisky and Eddie Jackson regarded as legitimate NFL-quality starters and Adrian Amos, Jonathan Bullard, Nick Kwiatkoski, Tarik Cohen and maybe Adam Shaheen good backups, according to an informal poll of opposing scouts.

He has needed more picks to build a team from the draft. Don’t look at the Bears’ limited roster if you are in the blame-hunting business. You might realize that you have been looking at bad for so long, you no longer know how to judge good.

Mike Mulligan is a special contributor to the Chicago Tribune.

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