The Chicago Bears introduced Ryan Pace as their new general manager on Friday morning, and in his opening remarks he laid out his vision for the team as they try to recover from a tough 2014 season.
“We’re all judged by wins and losses,” he said. “I know I’m evaluated with wins and losses.”
If wins and losses are going to be the only metric he’s evaluated by, then he’s going to have a lot of work to do. With a 5-11 record in the 2014 season, the Bears finished the year in dead last in the NFC North division, losing their final five games and ultimately losing enough to where ownership fired both Phil Emery and Marc Trestman following the season.
According to team president Ted Phillips, Pace will have full authority on deciding the composition of the 53-man roster, and will “oversee the entire football operations” at Halas Hall. Phillips told the media after the press conference that Pace’s contract with the team is for five years.
Pace comes to Chicago from the New Orleans Saints, where he spent the last 14 seasons after graduating from Eastern Illinois University. He spent the last two seasons as the director of player personnel for the team.
Despite his youth (Pace is 37 years old, making him the youngest G.M. in the NFL), Pace wanted to emphasize that he isn’t the type of executive who will be looking for shortcuts.
“I don’t want you guys thinking I’m some moneyball G.M. That’s not me,” he said.
There will be plenty of tough decisions that Pace will have to make quickly as he joins the Bears. First and foremost on that list is deciding on a head coach, and even though he will take advice on the hire from Phillips and team consultant Ernie Accorsi, he emphasized that the coaching hire will be critically important.
"That's all I'm focused on right now," he said. "That's the most critical thing we can do right now."
Pace also said that he will meet with quarterback Jay Cutler during the offseason, but wouldn’t comment specifically on that situation. He did throw the door open to sweeping changes on the roster.
"Our roster will be thoroughly evaluated," he said. "That will be a critical first step in us making the right offseason plan and decisions."
Ultimately though, Pace returned again and again to the theme of relationships. After the toxicity that pervaded the locker room during Trestman’s tenure, Pace said that he hopes the relationships at Halas Hall will more closely mirror the relationships he experienced in New Orleans with G.M. Mickey Loomis and head coach Sean Payton.
“One of my strengths is relationships and dealing with people,” Pace said in a radio interview shortly after his press conference. “The two most important relationships in the building are the general manager and the head coach, and the head coach and the quarterback.”