Overturning the Roster
Imagine going to a job interview and telling the franchise that everything they were doing was wrong, and the way you are about to do it is right.
That’s basically what Pace did when he blew the Bears front office away with his pitch to become the team’s general manager.
The first few things Pace did were a bit bumpy to be fair. John Fox was considered a very good hire at the time. A veteran coach to be paired with the young GM, but that, clearly, was proven to be a poor choice (although that choice wasn’t just Pace’s).
Pace looked at the Bears’ roster and he and Fox agreed on one thing right away: the team needed to get rid of any headaches. Right out of the gate, Pace dumped Brandon Marshall.
Eventually, Martellus Bennett was shown the door which, based on how he behaved during Pace’s first year, shouldn’t have been a surprise.
But the biggest shock was just how much Pace blew up the roster. That was probably his biggest mistake early on was the lack of transparency.
Looking back, it’s very clear that Pace wanted to blow up the roster (aside from Kyle Long) and start from scratch. A few other holdovers such as Kyle Fuller, Charles Leno and Sherrick McManis proved their worth and stuck with the franchise, but other than that, Pace flipped the entire roster and did most of it in two seasons.
The issue was that Pace nor anyone from the Bears organization told the fans that this was a true rebuild and that the team was starting over. That would have made the fan base more patient, but that wasn’t relayed to the fans and the Pace haters were born (and for some reason still exist).
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The amount of hate for removing Marshall, Bennett, Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte from this roster was non stop for about three years. Fans were insistent that the Bears offense would be unstoppable had all these players been kept, but fans weren’t noticing that only Jeffery really had any major contributions to their new teams.
Marshall had one good season before he fell off the face of the planet. Forte was never good with the Jets. Bennett had one good season with the New England Patriots before his career quickly ended.
Bill Belichick always says it’s better to get rid of a player one year early than one year late and that’s clearly something that Pace believes in as well, which sometimes means some fan favorites are shown the door, but that’s the cost of doing business.
Pace spent the first three seasons building through the draft and UDFA process while only adding mid-level and low-level free agents. Based on the success of 2018, the plan was successful. In Pace’s first three drafts (and UDFAs) he landed: Eddie Goldman, Adrian Amos, Bryce Callahan, Cameron Meredith, Leonard Floyd, Cody Whitehair, Jordan Howard, Roy Robertson-Harris, Mitch Trubisky, Eddie Jackson and Tarik Cohen.
That’s how you build a foundation for a contender. It’s hard to find any other team that found that many starting caliber players in three drafts, all of whom had big contributions (except Meredith) to the 2018 team.