Rozner: New Bears coach, GM have much work to do
The easy part, believe it or not, is over.
The Bears have found a general manager and coach. Everyone is happy and thrilled and excited and overjoyed to have the only jobs they ever wanted in professional football.
And now the real work begins.
Do the Bears have the right people in place? It will take some time to find out. If they have the wrong people, like Phil Emery and Marc Trestman -- of whom George McCaskey and Ted Phillips were absolutely certain -- you will probably find out sooner rather than later.
While Ryan Pace must expedite the learning curve, John Fox has already seen it all, and if nothing else they have a true professional as a head coach. The odd behavior of Trestman should be a distant memory as Fox goes about trying to transform the Bears from unlovable losers to likable winners.
That's going to take years, but Pace now has an experienced NFL guy to lean on, hopefully listening less to those above him than to the man he now sees as a partner.
If you're to take Pace at his word -- and at this point there's no reason not to -- he intends to take his time rebuilding a team that is severely lacking talent, especially homegrown talent.
While the Packers have the most drafted and undrafted players to originally sign with Green Bay, the Bears have the fewest in the NFL. It's no way run a franchise, unless you're trying to run it into the ground.
Witness the 2014 Chicago Bears.
So Pace and Fox will need time to figure out which players to keep, and go about the process of removing bad players and bad people from the roster.
And even though it's not impossible to do both and compete at the same time, it's unlikely to move quickly. The Bears could conceivably be better in 2016 with a couple good drafts and much better coaching, but competing for a playoff spot in two years is not the goal.
Pace wants to be in a spot -- perhaps in three years -- where the Bears are not just competing for a playoff spot, but also competing consistently for the big prize every season.
So where are they now?
Thinking about a three-year timeline, the Bears need a quarterback, at least two receivers and a running back. As good as Matt Forte has been, it's unrealistic to think he'll still be at an elite level in December 2017, especially with the beating he has suffered the last two seasons.
On the offensive line, Kyle Long can be a star and Matt Slauson was their best offensive linemen in 2013, playing well before an injury in 2014. That leaves three positions open on the line, including two tackles.
Tight end Martellus Bennett is only 27 and the man plays hard every week. He can still be here when the Bears are ready to start making the playoffs again.
On defense, the Bears have a corner in Kyle Fuller and little else they can count on a few years from now.
On the line, Stephen Paea is only 26 and looks like a keeper when healthy. Jeremiah Ratliff would be a nice fit if he could stay on the field, and if he weren't already 33 years old. The jury is out on Will Sutton and Ego Ferguson.
At linebacker, the Bears have no idea if they have a single player. Jon Bostic showed flashes playing out of position, and Christian Jones has terrific physical skills, but it is fair to questioned whether the Bears have anyone in place at linebacker.
The Bears also don't have any safeties so they need three players in the secondary.
Robbie Gould is 33 and a luxury for a team with so many needs. Will he still be here three years from now? Questionable. Punter Pat O'Donnell is 23 and appears to have a bright future.
So the Bears might need as many as 15 to 17 starters -- excluding special teams -- as they rummage through the trash on the current roster and begin to draft and sign players that can help them reach the level of consistent postseason team.
It sounds like a huge effort because it is, but it can be done if the Bears have found the right combination with Pace and Fox running the show. It's all sunshine and lollipops with a new coach and GM, and expectations are once again soaring.
The good news is no matter what they do, they can't possibly be worse than what we've seen the last three years.
At least, that seems impossible.
•Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.