Good luck, kid.
The Bears have fervent belief in Mitch Trubisky, the quarterback drafted No. 2 in 2017, and it was only reinforced during a rocky season for the organization that served as a 12-game introduction to the NFL for the rookie.
There is so much belief that the Bears raised the stakes with Trubisky and then doubled down on him during an eventful Black Monday at Halas Hall. Coach John Fox was fired and general manager Ryan Pace had his contract extended two years through the 2021 season after the two men collaborated on a 14-34 record over three seasons.
Collaboration was a key talking point during the afternoon media sessions as Pace made it clear he has final say on a coaching search that has already begun, but he will be joined in his travels by President Ted Phillips and Chairman George McCaskey.
If you think the Bears invested a lot in Trubisky when they traded the No. 3 pick, two third-round picks and a fourth-round pick to the 49ers to move up one spot in the draft, they’ve gone all-in now. Pace said it will be a “broad, thorough” coaching search and he doesn’t want to pigeonhole the type of candidate he’s seeking.
“We’re looking for the best coach,” Pace said. “Best character, best leadership.”
Everything else Pace said pointed you in one direction — the 16th coach of the Bears will have an offensive background that will bring out the best in Trubisky, who showed poise as a rookie, had a knack for not turning the ball over and perhaps made his greatest gains in terms of pocket presence.
The hope is Trubisky will make the Bears one of the most attractive destinations for what is, for now, a list of six teams seeking a new head coach. By extending Pace’s contract, the Bears can put the new coach and the GM on the same timeline. So, tacking on two years to Pace’s contract was essentially an affirmation of the selection of Trubisky. Not extending Pace would have given candidates pause when considering the Bears because they would have been asked to come to Halas Hall and work for a GM who had only two years remaining on his deal, meaning the team would be in win-now mode.
Trubisky might have “it,” the difficult-to-define intangibles that are needed to match elite talent, dedication and work ethic for the best quarterbacks in the game. As Pace said, he has done a good job of not repeating mistakes. With a dramatically revamped roster of skill-position players and a hands-on offensive-minded head coach, perhaps Trubisky can take off in Year 2 similar to the way second-year players Carson Wentz and Jared Goff did this season.
“I need to point the finger at myself as well,” Pace said. “Our record is a reflection on me as well. But I feel good about where we’re at right now. I feel much better about where we’re at right now than at this time last year, and that starts with the quarterback position. We have a 23-year-old quarterback that we feel very good about that we need to build around. We need to build upon that core, and fortunately we have the resources to do that.”
Pace talked about getting the time to stack draft classes, something the Bears have had success and failure with in the last three years. Trubisky should enhance the Bears’ ability to attract skill-position players as opposed to last season when players they approached, including Kenny Stills and Ted Ginn Jr., turned them down to play for substantially less money elsewhere.
What Pace has done particularly well since arriving is sharing his vision with his superiors. That created security for him, so it’s no surprise Phillips and McCaskey came to the conclusion the organization was pot committed with Trubisky and signed off to go all-in on him while the last two general managers were launched despite better winning records.
“I want to reiterate our family’s support for Ted and Ryan and Ryan’s plan to get the Bears back and give Bears fans the winner they deserve,” McCaskey said.
The plan hits full speed this week as Pace dives headfirst into his second coaching search, seeking the man who can present the best plan for building a winning team around the skills of Trubisky.
“With his work ethic, his professionalism, the intangibles he has, I’m very confident he’s only going to improve, especially going into the offseason as the guy,” Pace said.
Pace is counting on it more than ever, and the Bears will know well before his contract is up in 2021 if it was the right move.
Brad Biggs is a Herald & Review News Service columnist based in Chicago.