The Chicago Bears have won just nine games the past two seasons combined and are coming off a franchise-worst 3-13 campaign.
For all intents and purposes, the team has hit rock bottom, a fact not lost on ownership.
"It’s been very challenging," president George McCaskey said. "I’ve said many times, our entire family is huge fans. And we live and die with our Bears, just like everyone else does. And it has been very difficult."
Losses under current GM Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox continue to pile up, yet very little will change in the front office. Pace is retaining Fox and McCaskey is retaining Pace for the 2017 season.
"I’m pleased with the job [Pace] has done," McCaskey said. "He talked from the beginning about how this was going to take time, about how we needed to be patient. I told him I’m not a patient person but I promised him that I would be patient. With all the adversity that we’ve had, I like the steady hand that he and John have had on the team. "
McCaskey was quick to pull the trigger on removing former head coach Marc Trestman after just two seasons, and Trestman won four more games than Fox. Yet Trestman let the locker room fall into disrepair, something that hasn't happened under Fox, which appears to be a big reason he's still in charge.
"These guys fought for each other all season," said McCaskey. "They never pointed fingers. I think that’s a credit to the type of players that we have, and I think it’s also a credit to John and his coaching staff for keeping them together.
"The thing I like about Ryan and John is how well they work together. How they have stuck to the plan. How they have weathered adversity and kept this team together."
That plan has been to build the team through the draft, acquiring high-level young talent the coaching staff can develop each season, in lieu of spending big money on veteran free agents.
"I’ve told Ryan, you should be criticized every spring for not being more aggressive in free agency because that means we are sticking to the plan of developing our own players, focusing primarily on the draft," McCaskey said. "If there is a special guy out there, do you do what it takes to go get him? Yeah. But I think he’s taken a very measured approach to free agency thus far and I expect that to continue this offseason.
"And that’s where I think the important responsibility for me is to show the same kind of discipline with myself that Ryan is demonstrating in the draft and in free agency. You know, sometimes the best thing to do is to keep your mouth shut."
To this point, that measured approach has failed to bear fruit. If the team comes up empty again next year, there's a good chance McCaskey's patience will run out.
"Like I said, I'm not a patient person."null