The score is always 0-0 heading into the second quarter when I watch the Chicago Bears play. Whether it be quarterbacks Erik Kramer, Rex Grossman, Kyle Orton, Jay Cutler, Mitchell Trubisky, and now Justin Fields; or opponents like the Baltimore Ravens or the New York Giants, the score remains the same. Head coaches will come and go, but Bears games will be 0-0 to start the second quarter, pretty much every damn time.
This is the mark of a good defensive game plan, but also a sign of an inept offense. Bears fans are still hoping (for almost 40-years now) that the team can procure a stable enough offense to win a super bowl. Current Bears futures match the Dow Jones Industrial Average, even as some Bears insist a golden season in 2023 is somehow around the corner even if the Bears tread water without floaties this year.
Chicago Bears front office has failed to adequately address the offense
Roster moves like those new general manager Ryan Poles has made this offseason are not likely to improve the Bears’ chances of putting a positive integer in the first-quarter box score this or next season. Poles listens to Bears fans as well as the parents in the Oscars’ best picture winning movie CODA do with Ruby, except he offers no signs of change on the horizon.
Poles should be focused on getting an ace wide receiver this offseason and fixing the offensive line if the Bears want to compete for a championship in the next couple of years (during the magical-rookie-quarterback contract).
Some Bears fans and local media used to the sadistic torture of watching Bears ownership give us Canadian football schemes and an Andy Reid offensive-coordinator figurine, have looked at what Poles hasn’t done with the offense to help Justin FIelds, and have decided Poles is a genius putting together a scheme for the Bears super bowl window in 2023-24. Next year, the “2023” theory goes, Poles pieces some early draft picks and targets a top free-agent wide receiver. Fields then, after two years of zipping passes to mirages in the Mojave, can progress to what we hoped he’d be in the last draft.
This sort of wishful thinking won’t help Field’s develop for that window and it won’t help the Bears capitalize on building a championship team during Field’s rookie contract, and the national media is correct in being skeptical that the Bears front office is doing enough, if anything at all, to help Fields. There are a few reasons why stunting Field’s growth in 2022 makes the rookie-quarterback-contract-championship window harder.
Chicago Bears need to accurately access Fields potential
The Bears heavily invested in Fields by trading away two first-round draft picks in the 2021 NFL Draft. He signed up to play behind an offensive line that gave up 58 sacks last season and has had no major incoming help at wide receiver.
With Allen Robinson leaving to join the Los Angeles Rams this offseason, the current wide receiver core, now at 14 on the depth chart, is so weak no one knows who the alpha, the true number 2 receiver is. The offensive line is reminiscent of the group Marc Trestman would have coached the year before joining the Bears.
The roster pieced of many one-year patchwork contracts currently looks like it should face relegation to the USFL with early reports on their progress troubling. Poles has said those types of free agents breed competition, but the Bears don’t have an example on the field those athletes can work to level up to.
It will be hard to judge what Fields will need to be successful in 2023 if he has nothing around him this year. How are the Bears supposed to see what positions on offense or defense they can bring in to for sure make a run in January 2024 if everything needs to be “remodeled” again next year?
While I’m currently all in on Fields as the franchise quarterback, I’m also willing to hedge my bets. If Fields cannot improve with weapons around him, the Bears will need to move on. The Cleveland Browns brought in talent for Baker Mayfield and found he didn’t work out. Now the Browns look to be able to move on quickly knowing he’s not their guy.
Chicago Bears need to show improvement to recruit championship free agents
Winning in the modern NFL works similarly to college football. Teams that win championships have to recruit well. The Rams with Odell Beckham Jr., Tampa Bay Buccaneers with Antonio Brown, Leonard Fournette, Rob Gronkowski, and Kansas City Chiefs with Sammy Watkins; the previous three super bowl winners, all added premium talent to their roster to make their respective runs.
All three teams had one thing in common, they were able to show that their wide receivers and tight ends were going to produce good headlines and high numbers. In addition to offensive players, they were able to bring in defensive playmakers who wanted a chance to earn a ring.
The Bears don’t have a good history of keeping their best wide receivers. Allen Robinson and Brandon Marshall come to mind, both complaining about the quarterback and offensive play. Not a lot of elite talent annually looks to sign with the Bears during free agency because they’re worried about their production going down. The franchise has a history of sabotaging quarterbacks and relies on running and defense to win games.
For the Bears to add more top-tier talent in 2023, the team needs Fields and the offense to look like it’s capable of winning it with a few more pieces.
Chicago Bears need to keep Fields physically and mentally healthy
The Bears don’t have the luxury of pressing the simulation button on their “franchise mode” on Madden to wait for perfectly healthy Fields to automatically increase his overall skill a few points before the 2023 season.
Having a health hazard protecting him in a pass rush could do irreversible damage to Fields if he gets hit as often as he did in 2021. The Bears shouldn’t put him in a situation where he becomes the next David Carr. If he does have elite talent and isn’t being helped, it’s possible he won’t re-sign with the franchise. Punting on the 2022 season won’t help locker room morale.
Joe Burrow had a rough 2020 rookie campaign with a bottom-three offensive line. Burrow was tied for the second-most sacks through week 11 before succumbing to injury. In addition to supplying Burrow with 2020 second-round pick Tee Higgins and 2021 5th overall pick Ja’Marr Chase, the Bengals spent their second 2021 pick taking an offensive tackle, Jackson Carmon. Where did those Bengals go in February 2021 after going 4-11-1 in 2020?
Ryan Poles’ early roster decisions don’t look promising
Contrast the Bengals’ decisions to Poles. Poles took two players for the defensive secondary with his first two draft picks (think keeping the opponent’s first-quarter box score at zero). He then drafted Velus Jones Jr., a 25-year-old wide receiver project in the third round. Since the draft, and after a free agency bringing no elite talent, the Bears have spent a week and a half with a blatant public relations campaign praising Poles picks and spinning that Fields wanted Jones.
It’s likely Fields had Jones on a list he liked of wide receivers he watched with Poles. But how high was his name? If someone believes Fields had Jones as his top choice on the board when Kyler Gordon was chosen, please message me where your stash is so I can enjoy the Bears offense this season.
Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy currently says he’s not worried about the wide receiver depth chart, but his experience minus Aaron Rodgers, starting the youthful Jordan Love, and leaving Kansas City with seven points, shows even he will have a learning curve this season with the Bears. Fields will need an improved wide receiver room to confidently show his skills this season.
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