Posted on: November 3, 2022 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Photo by MaryKate Drews, Chicago Bears

From watching big-time players being traded away to finally seeing Justin Fields and the offense clicking, Bears fans have been on a rollercoaster the past two weeks. But in the end, General Manager Ryan Poles has finally shown signs that he is all in on Fields. 

All started with Monday Night Football in week 7 where the Bears thrashed the Patriots 33-14 at New England. It was the first time this season where the Bears offense started working. Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy fit the offense around Fields and finally played to his strengths, introducing designed runs and keeping Fields on the move. 

Mohammed Jbara

Freelance Contributor

Then Poles did what every Bears fan thought was necessary: trade premier pass rusher Robert Quinn to the Philadelphia Eagles for a 4th round pick in next year’s draft. Due to Quinn’s large contract as well as his falling production (1.5 sacks vs. last year’s 19.5), the decision was a no-brainer for Poles.

Then we get to the game against the Dallas Cowboys. The Bears defense did not play as expected, and the Cowboys offense had their way with them. The Bears lost to the Cowboys 49-29, but Fields and the offense had a great game. It was the first time I can remember the defense letting the team down when the offense was playing great, as opposed to vice versa.

And then the day fans dreaded arrived. On Monday, the Bears traded All Pro linebacker and team captain Roquan Smith to the Baltimore Ravens for a second-round pick, a fifth-round pick, and veteran linebacker AJ Klein. Smith, who was leading the NFL in tackles before the Cowboys game and was the backbone of the defense, is now on another team.

However, the deal, like the Quinn trade, had to be done. Smith has been playing out of his mind ever since he was drafted by the Bears eighth overall in the 2018 draft. But before the season, Poles and Smith couldn’t come to an agreement on a contract extension, and both sides said the negotiations had reached a point of no return. So it was a good move by Poles to get draft assets in return as opposed to letting Smith walk for free.

These moves were clear signs that Poles is officially sold on Fields. Remember, Fields was not drafted by Poles and his regime, and general managers want to have players they’ve scouted, evaluated and drafted instead of dealing with the previous failed regime’s players.

Photo by MaryKate Drews, Chicago Bears
Wide receiver Chase Claypool takes a break during practice.

Poles doubled down on his position on Fields by supplying him with an extra weapon for the remainder of the season. The Bears acquired Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool for a second round pick.

Shifting the focus to add playmakers on offense shows Poles’ commitment to Fields because it provides a stable foundation of young players that can further improve and set the standard for the offense. No matter how many times the Bears need to retool, the process will be much easier since it’s on the offensive side of the ball instead of the defense.

But what if Fields still doesn’t work out? Some fans would argue that we then would be stuck with Fields and a team that’s worthy of contention.

From the small sample we’ve seen from Poles, it seems clear he’s acting differently than previous general managers. I think he sees that, if built right, the Bears can be Super Bowl challengers quickly, especially in a weaker NFC. Poles has shown that he’s not hesitant to get rid of “fan-favorites” or star players to stick with his plan.

So if I’m wrong and Fields isn’t the future, then Poles will go get a star-caliber quarterback to lead the Bears, especially with a young core. But for the time being, he’s shown he’s in full support of Fields.

Why would Poles trade draft capital in the midst of a rebuild? Well, we have to look at the context. The Bears are set to have the most room to play with in terms of the salary cap in the NFL next offseason. All 32 teams have the same fixed amount of money they can give to players, and the Bears are nowhere near the limit. And after all the trades before Claypool, the Bears had nine total draft picks in the 2023 draft.

Shifting the focus to add playmakers on offense shows Poles is all in on Fields because it provides a stable foundation of young players that can further improve and set the standard for the offense.

However, all those assets are meaningless if the market for the positional needs is not as good as the team needs to be. This was the case of the wide receiver market in free agency. There were no premier receivers on the market for the Bears to be interested in. With the trade for Claypool, the Bears can now shift some of their focus to other needs in free agency.

They now have a big receiver for their young quarterback to utilize. Claypool is a 6-foot 4-inch in wide receiver out of Notre Dame. he finished his rookie year (2020) with 62 catches for 873 yards and nine touchdowns. His production dwindled down his sophomore season only in the touchdown department, as he finished with two touchdowns.

Claypool is going into an offense where he will, without a doubt, be the No. 2 receiver behind Darnell Mooney. And fortunately for Mooney, defenses have to shift some focus onto Claypool, meaning Mooney’s production will increase drastically.

Claypool still has a year and a half left on his rookie contract, which means the Bears will be looking to come to an agreement on a contract extension. I’m on board with an extension for Claypool after his rookie deal expires because his physical attributes are exactly what offensive coordinator Luke Getsy is looking for. He’s looking for a deep threat wide receiver that can also use his build to block defenders while running the ball.

The second half of the Bears season now looks way more intriguing and compelling. After eight games of fans screaming at the TV and cursing at the sky for the Bears to help Justin Fields, they now see an offense that’s in a groove, and they can celebrate the addition of a big, deep-threat wide receiver for Fields to use to torch defenses. The rebuild is on.