(670 The Score) Bears general manager Ryan Pace strings words together in the same way his teams have performed over the last two seasons, with both exercises eventually being realized as largely a waste of everyone's time.
Pace answers questions affably enough, if we're very generous with how we apply the term "answer." It's more of a basic sequential response, as if it just happens to be his turn to talk when the reporter is done talking, and Pace regurgitates the same bland and noncommittal tropes that shed no light whatsoever on anything he may do or may not do, rendering the purpose of all of it unclear.
Where are you in your plan to find a quarterback?
"Everything's on the table," Pace responds.
Is it possible Mitchell Trubisky remains a candidate to return?
"Everything's on the table with all the quarterbacks," he says.
To hear Pace, it's all of them, everywhere. Free agents, trade targets, draft picks or incumbents, all on some kind of table like coffee mugs, your kid's virtual school clutter or the elements listed left to right from metals to noble gases. We learned absolutely nothing Tuesday from 20 minutes with the person ostensibly in charge of the football operation.
Or maybe not, to hear him describe it. No equivalent Chicago sports executive in memory has gone to such great pains to diffuse responsibility for any and all decisions, dropping every possible other name anywhere near him to let you know it's all a shared and nebulous burden that seeps into every corner of Halas Hall.
After the Bears' catastrophic miss on the most important position, we're far removed from the same guy who proudly declared himself "all in" after dealing for Khalil Mack in 2018. The approach must be working for Pace, considering he still has his job. Even if he works overtime to make it difficult to determine his actual responsibilities and if there are any consequences for not fulfilling them.
The Bears' initial press conference at the end of the 2020 season was widely panned for elevating the concept of organizational collaboration to the same apparent level as winning, but that theme is still rolling.
Again calling every decision "a collaborative effort," Pace ticked off his personnel lieutenants by name, identified the coaching staff as the team's primary strength and mentioned the continued involvement of president Ted Phillips and chairman George McCaskey.
"It's not just one or two people, it's an entire building," Pace said. "That's the way we operate. We're united, we're on the same page, we see things the same way."
This is how 8-8 happens, desultory Sundays of some wins and some losses that provide the same lukewarm inertia that keeps everyone still employed even after years of wasted dollars, draft choices and opportunities. The buck stops nowhere specific, instead just dissipating in thin air.
Who's in charge of the ultimate decisions?
Indeed Pace may be, nominally, but all he wants us to do is think something other than that simple fact. This is some kind of strange and slow-moving magic trick he's performing for us, running a football team in the equivalent of the passive voice. Decisions are made and outcomes occur, and the bosses and their bosses continue on as they are and were, congratulating each other for not quite understanding who ever does what.
Dan Bernstein is the co-host of the Bernstein & Rahimi Show on middays from 9 a.m. until noon on 670 The Score. You can follow him on Twitter @Dan_Bernstein.