Love it or Hate It: Pace Over Ballard? Bears May Not Have Got Right GM

In “Love It or Hate It,” “D and Davis Show” co-host Ken Davis breaks down the most controversial topics in the sports world.

Eh….

Are you excited? Are you not entertained?

The Merry-Go-Round continues at Halas Hall and Ryan Pace is the newest prized pony on the pole.

Maybe it is because I’m of a certain age (mid 30’s, not much younger than Pace, mind you) and maybe it’s because I’m not a fanboy in any particular way, but the world has hardened me. Maybe it is due to the fact that I follow most closely a Chicago Bears franchise that specializes in playing out dog and pony shows when it comes to hiring new stewards.

Three years ago when they hired Phil Emery we got promised steak, kibbles and bits followed. Not gonna go for the ok-e-doke, not again. Maybe it was Bears President Ted Phillips’ assertion that Pace, the team’s new general manager, will report to him.

“Oh no… not like this.” #Twitch.

Chris Ballard

Chris Ballard

It was only Thursday morning when we were all under the assumption that current Kansas City Chief front office member and former Bear scout master Chris Ballard was a cinch for the Bears’ GM position — for anyone not in the know, Ballard worked under former Bears GM’s Jerry Angelo and Phil Emery as an area scout and director of pro scouting. Some of Angelo’s best mid-round picks (Charles “Peanut” Tillman and Lance “Babybackribs” Briggs) were players Ballard allegedly fought for the Bears to draft.

I must say, looking over a few of the players attributed to Ballard who the Bears drafted over the years made me feel somewhat secure that the Bears would hire him, regardless of him being a staff member for two fired GMs. Angelo was heralded for a time for his hitting on later round draft picks as I mentioned with Briggs and Tillman (and saving himself from the flops that more often occurred in early rounds), when in actuality some of that credit needed to go to Ballard. With Ballard in charge, the ceiling for success for the Bears in finding new talent would likely be higher than its been in recent years.

Ballard could have been the guy to not only target stars, but also to find the crucial players to fill out the rest of the roster, something the Bears haven’t been able to do through the draft since the first 4-5 of Jerry Angelo.

If Ballard scared off Bears brass as its been rumored maybe we should all ask ourselves, why? Ballard worked for the Bears for a decade, he should have some idea of what is wrong in Halas Hall, he has seen the goings on there from top to bottom. We also know Ballard said “no” to joining Lovie Smith in Tampa Bay last year due to the fact that Lovie would have most of the power in their organizational structure. Ballard wants things the way he wants them. This could be a wrong way to look at it, but his resume dictates Ballard may be be one of the next great personnel people in the NFL.

Thinking over their dual interviews back on Wednesday, I picture both guys coming into their interviews all young and strapping, on the same level except with one guy being familiar to the Bears with the other one (Pace) looking as shiny as a brand new toy to Phillips and team chairman George McCaskey.

In his time up Ballard probably hit them with a, “look you want me to fix this house of horrors I’m need this, that, and this, and oh yea, Ted, I’m not reporting shit to you. I’m a man, I’m 40!” Ted, as we heard in Pace’s press conference, wasn’t having that type of lack of spinlessness, plus McCaskey may have dislike any signs of the organization’s reflection in Ballard due to his connections to the past.

Pace, on the other hand, comes from a good organization in the New Orleans Saints, one that has been consistently successful while he’s been a part of it. Pace’s background is mostly in pro player personnel and not in scouting, meaning his draft experience is limited. This could be a weakness the Bears don’t need since this team desperately needs to improve on its drafting impact and back-end roster players (think special teams). All that can be negated, though, if Pace brings in better scouts and college evaluators.

Last year, the Saints created a position for Pace, placing him in control of both the pro and college personal. Towards the tail end of the season only one of New Orleans’ 2014 draft picks was in a position to help the team on the field and he was on special teams, first round pick Brandin Cooks had a decent year before he had a hand injury that caused him to miss the rest of the season.

New Orleans also has a terrible salary cap situation its dealing with right now, which helped cause them to trade Darren Sproles and draft Cooks to replace him. We all know about the Jimmy Graham arbitration issue from the last off-season in which his designation as a tight end instead of a wide receiver was the source of much drama and salary considerations.

Why do I bring all this up? Well, when you look at New Orleans and the free agency battle with Graham you would think that a team like that would know how much Graham is essential to their offense and would have allotted the need finances to sign him, regardless of what position he wanted to be classified. Graham had an off season this year, I’m unsure why, but you have to ask the question did his off-season battle with his own team affect his production.

George McCaskey does deserve credit for sticking to his plan. After firing Phil Emery, McCaskey mentioned that the Bears wanted a fresh start, a new set of eyes, to run the team. Emery worked for the Bears prior to being GM and so did Ballard. Look at it that way and its not too surprising that Pace was hired, but was that the best way for the Bears to size up their GM candidates?

Pace is a total 180 from the past but he has to define the future of one of the NFL’s most storied franchises. If Pace can lock things down the Bears may be a team on the rise in good time. I’m just left wondering how good Ballard will be when he finally gets a shot at running a NFL franchise.

Follow Ken on Twitter @ThatsDavis, “The D and Davis Show” on Twitter @DAndDavisShow and Regal Radio @regalradio1 and on Facebook under Regal Radio

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