The Philadelphia Eagles just did the unthinkable. They won the Super Bowl in just a little more than two years after pulling the plug on Chip Kelly. Bears general manager Ryan Pace hopes new head coach Matt Nagy makes a Doug Pederson-like impact but lets not kid ourselves, the pressure is all on Pace now.
Pace has a new contract extension, his hand picked head coach and the stink of Phil Emery, Marc Trestman and John Fox out of the building. It's on him now to end streak of four straight losing seasons and a playoff drought stretching back to 2010.
How does he get there? What's the blueprint in a tough division and wide open conference? It starts with young impact talent on both sides of the ball. Pace's history in free agency has up and down to say the least but he has to hit a few home runs this year.
Finding Mitchell Trubisky some reliable weapons on the outside is paramount. Matt Nagy will implement his Spread Coast Offense which is perfect for Trubisky's skill set but the Bears will need speed and good route runners in order for this to work.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry has been a popular name among fans but have buyer's beware. Landry is a high volume target receiver who struggles to pick up large chunk of yards and put the ball into the end zone. He will likely want a salary north of $12 million a year and that just isn't a good investment for his skill set.
There are more under the radar receivers who would fit this offense better than Landry. Albert Wilson from the Chiefs, Paul Richardson from the Seahawks and either Marqise Lee or Allen Robinson from the Jaguars are good options. The Bears need to be drafting a receiver this year as well.
Speaking of the draft, Pace will likely not pull the trigger on another receiver in the first round. Alabama's Calvin Ridley is a good talent but he's no Julio Jones or Calvin Johnson. Offensive line or the best edge player available is a better bet than Ridley. Receivers drafted in the first round have struggled in the NFL in recent years and it's a gamble not worth taking.
Receiver is a deep position in the draft this year. In a perfect world, Texas A&M's Christian Kirk is still on the board when the Bears pick in the second round. If he's not there, Equanimeous St Brown from Notre Dame or Anthony Miller from Memphis are great fall back options.
On the defensive side of the ball, Pace could learn from the Alshon Jeffery situation by working harder to retain your own young talent. Cornerback Kyle Fuller had a solid bounce back season and given the team's lack of depth at the position, it would be smart to find a way to keep him long term.
Adding another impact pass rusher opposite Leonard Floyd is key. Pernell McPhee is older, battered and likely on his way out. Willie Young and Lamarr Houston could be back but they are merely rotational guys at this point. Watch the waiver wire for veteran pass rushers currently a little overpaid. Rams outside linebacker Robert Quinn is a great example of that kind of player.
Ideally Pace can draft Bradley Chubb from NC State but he's likely to be off the board by the time the eighth pick rolls around. Keep an eye on Virginia's Tremaine Edmunds. He's not a pure pass rusher but does so many things well and could really be an impact player on defense.
However Pace attacks this off-season, he needs to hit a few home runs. This franchise can no longer settle for the solid double signing or draft pick. Who's going to be the next star in the mold of now Hall of Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher? Congrats to him! What an amazing career.
We'll revisit the Bears off-season a few more times. Post NFL Combine, pre and post free agency, and pre and post NFL Draft will all be key points to readdress the topic. Stay tuned.