By Dan Bernstein--
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(CBS) With 10 games burned on the 2016 Bears slate with nothing to show for them and six more looming, it's well past time for the ostensible head of all things football at Halas Hall to tell us in no uncertain terms what it means and what's at stake.
Enough of the rest of us guessing and grasping for context in the second year of John Fox's coaching tenure, and enough of the increasingly uncertain power structure. If general manager Ryan Pace is indeed what we were told he was hired to be – and we assume he was told as well – then he needs to come out of the shadows and explain how and why the Bears are where they are at 2-8 and exactly what he thinks now matters.
And if there's some reason for him to be hiding, then we should be told what that is.
Other NFL general managers are more available and transparent than the league's youngest in the position, with several taking responsibility during the annual bye week to be available to reporters' questions beyond the sanitized obsequiousness proffered by the team's own website. Pace hasn't spoken on the record in a group setting since training camp. It's Pace's job to have some answers, even if he has to admit to sharing the same uncertainties we all have about a turnaround job that just isn't getting done.
We've heard plenty of the same recycled gibberish from Fox about players getting the message and making improvements and cleaning things up, and we've heard way too much about injuries before he remembers to try to explain that he's not using them as an excuse.
I want to know if Fox's boss thinks injuries are an excuse or not and if he is coaching for his job. If he's safe, make him so. And if he's not, lay out the expectations for how he makes a case. We can handle it, because anybody close to this consistently disappointing franchise has ample scar tissue developed from any number of other wounds to the psyche.
The injuries are turning particularly brutal, indeed, with Zach Miller breaking another foot, free-agent expenditure Josh Sitton in a walking boot and Leonard Floyd exiting chillingly before the team began receiving positive news later Sunday after the worst fears that accompany suspected cervical/spinal scares. Pace has overseen specific investment in injury-prevention efforts with both increased attention to diet and nutrition and the hiring of a sports-science expert, only to see important players suffer major setbacks nearly every week.
The effort has failed to this point, and he needs to tell us why there should be any confidence that some from the next round of draft picks can avoid being hit by a falling piano, buried in a mudslide or taken from the practice field by a mountain lion. This isn't normal and has to stop.
Why does this keep happening to Ryan Pace's team, and what does he plan to do about any and all of it?
More than one-third of the season remains, and we need some guidance from the top to know how to watch it, analyze it fairly and criticize it. That requires some vocal and visible leadership beyond the bumbling coach and his useless, warmed-over porridge of words.
The Bears' continuing meltdown is above John Fox at this point, unless somebody wants to tell us that it's not.
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