Ryan Pace vision of a defense now a reality long term

On Friday, The Chicago Bears signed defensive tackle Eddie Goldman to a contract extension making him one of the league’s highest-paid players at the position. It comes on the eve of the start of the 2018 season in which general manager Ryan Pace was extremely busy in the off-season. After four years as general manager, Pace now has his core roster.

Pace’s busy off-season has involved re-signing several of his defensive starters to long-term deals having them in place until 2021. Newly added linebacker Khalil Mack, defensive linemen Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman, and cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara all have been extended in the last two seasons. Goldman and Mack are the two most recent signees signing their deals this past week.

Added to the group are both inside and outside linebackers Roquan Smith and Leonard Floyd who are still on their rookie contracts. Floyd, who is in the third year of his four-year deal, will most likely have the team pick up his fifth-year option. Smith was drafted seventh overall in this year’s draft and was viewed as the most NFL readied prospect in the draft.

In total, it gives the Bears seven starters who will be playing together for the foreseeable future providing their defense with strong continuity. Before Pace’s trade for Mack, the Bears defense was ranked in the top ten for total defense last season. Now with one of the league’s best pass rushers, the team could feature the best defense in the league.

It has been almost four years in the making, as when Pace was hired in 2015, his main goal was to overhaul a bad Bears roster. The defense especially needed to be reconstructed as it was historically bad in both 2013 and 2014. It was apparent that the team lacked playmakers who could sack the quarterback and create turnovers.

The team was given a massive boost when Pace hired Vic Fangio as the team’s defensive coordinator in 2015. Fangio was a seasoned defensive coordinator who had recently oversaw a San Francisco defense that was the league’s best from 2011 to 2014. Fangio provided the schematic and a proven defensive play-caller, but the defense still needed talented players.

In his first draft, Pace added defensive tackle Goldman and safety Adrian Amos via the draft. Both players were named to the Pro Football Writer Association’s All-Rookie Team for their performances in 2015.

The following season, the Bears general manager added defensive end Hicks and drafted Floyd ninth overall in that year’s draft. The two have combined for over 27 sacks in their two seasons with the team and look to benefit the most with the presence of Mack.

In 2017, Pace added another safety in Eddie Jackson from Alabama who recorded two interceptions and two defensive touchdowns in his rookie campaign. Amukamara provided a surprise in his first season with the team as he was rewarded with a contract extension following the season.

Like Amukamara, Fuller had a bounce-back season playing at a Pro-Bowl worthy level as he was one of the league’s most sought-after restricted free agents this offseason. The rival Green Bay Packers made him a lucrative offer that the Bears matched within hours.

Within four years, the Bears have been able to transform their defense from one of the worst in the league historically to one that could be the best in 2018. All the credit deserves to be given to Pace drafted and scouted the players he felt that were vital to restoring pride to the Chicago Bears. Fangio and the players all were viewed as vital to their general manager as no expense was sparred resigning them going forward.

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