Pace, Fox

Bears general manager Ryan Pace, left, and former head coach John Fox confer after the team's minicamp last year at Halas Hall. Fox was fired Monday as Pace was given a contract extension.

Charles Rex Arbogast, File, Associated Press

You fire the head football coach, then receive an extension on your already-lucrative contract.

To some fans, that ranks right up there with throwing a drowning man an anvil and telling him to hang on while you sit on the pier.

Monday's news conference at Halas Hall was to be expected. John Fox had to be fired as Bears' coach. A three-year record of 14-34 and 3-15 in the NFC North demanded it.

But general manager Ryan Pace earning an extension through 2021 seemed cold and heartless, though it also was expected. No new coach would want this job if the GM had one foot out the door.

Fox was liked by his players because he never got in their face or threw them under the bus. He was grandpa with a headset and clipboard.

His decision making in games and the ability to teach and develop were questionable, however.

Pace joined team president Ted Phillips and chairman George McCaskey on Monday in reveling over the fact a "new, professional culture" had been established in the locker room.

OK, I'll give you that, considering the clown car driven around Halas Hall by Phil Emery and Marc Trestman before Fox arrived.

The bottom line is wins and the playoffs — which Pace, Phillips and McCaskey have failed to deliver.

Neither Phillips nor McCaskey are true "football" people who played or coached the game. Phillips is a former bookkeeper, for gosh sakes, the guy who once handled player contracts while McCaskey's mother owns the franchise established in 1920.

And her family doesn't intend to sell.

Pace has endured a string of free-agent flops in quarterback Mike Glennon, wide receivers Markus Wheaton, Kevin White and Eddie Royal, safeties Quintin Demps and Antrel Rolle and cornerback Marcus Cooper.

Pace, Phillips and McCaskey all addressed the media, feigning the same anger fans have had the last three seasons.

"We know you're frustrated and disappointed and rightfully so," McCaskey said. "We know that you've been getting the business for being a Bears' fan when you go to the grocery store or church or while picking up the kids because we're getting it, too.

"This is taking longer than any of us expected."

The Big 3 wants you to believe the immediate future is all sunshine and roses with young franchise quarterback Mitch Trubisky, a top 10 defense, a high draft pick and cap room.

Those factors will attract the best coaching candidates, they insist.

We're told every football decision is made entirely by Pace with "collaborative" involvement by the others.

It would've been nice had they all accepted some blame. There was plenty to go around.

Did you know the Bears have been in last place among the NFC North for 36 straight NFL weeks during the regular season? Or that they are 34 games under .500 since firing Lovie Smith? Or that they had a league-high 35 players on injured reserve in just the last two seasons?

"This is never about me. This is about what's best for the organization," said Pace, who is partly responsible for that 14-34 mark. "I need to point the finger at myself as well. I get that. But I feel good about where we're at right now.

"I feel much better than at this time last year and that starts with the quarterback position. I feel extremely prepared now."

Injuries are a part of the game, but 35 on injured reserve during which time you were 8-24?

"It's something we've looked at closely and we did a lot to address it last year," Pace said. "Obviously, it wasn't enough. Injuries play a big factor in our results and are something we have to get fixed.

"That's my job. That's my responsibility."

Pace has said that each summer in training camp but the end result never changes and the IR list ends up reading like a phone book.

Makes you wonder if these three wise men really know what direction to take.

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This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com.

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