Posted on: September 5, 2022 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

 Photo by John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune

Chicago Bears fans should have no difficulty forgetting the dumpster fire of the 2021 season. Under the incompetence of former head coach Matt Nagy, the Bears’ offense ranked 27th out of 32 teams in the league, scoring just 18.3 points per game.

The sliver of optimism for Bears fans was seeing rookie quarterback Justin Fields under center. The Bears made a ton of changes – new head coach, new assistant coaches, new general manager, new players – but they’re all geared toward one thing: developing Fields. That’s been the perennial quest for the Bears for the past 80 years, developing a quarterback.

Mohammed Jbara

Freelance Contributor

Showing flashes of brilliance, Fields set Soldier Field on fire while starting only 10 out of 17 games. He missed the first two games of the season because the coaching staff preferred to start veteran Andy Dalton, and five of the last seven games due to multiple injuries. 

Fields had his work cut out for him last season. Nagy and the coaching staff didn’t play to his strengths. At Ohio State, Fields was shifty, elusive and able to move around the pocket to create time and space for himself. 

With the Bears, he didn’t have that. The offensive line didn’t help; Fields was sacked the most of any rookie quarterback. The play design and selection by Nagy and his offensive coaching staff was horrendous as well. The Bears finished with a 34.72 percent third-down conversion rate which, you guessed it, was last in the league.

But this season brings a new era for the historic franchise under new General Manager Ryan Poles and Head Coach Matt Eberflus. The new regime at Halas Hall had one goal in mind during the 2022 offseason: Make the development of Fields as smooth as possible. 

First up for reform, the offensive line. The Bears spent four of their 11 draft selections on offensive linemen, hoping to provide the protection needed for Fields to stay upright while also providing him a new weapon on the outside in WR Velus Jones, Jr., out of Tennessee.

They then provided Fields with an offensive play caller that would play to his strengths. Luke Getsy, former quarterback coach and passing game coordinator for the Green Bay Packers, was named the Bears’ new offensive coordinator. 

Photo by Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune
New Head Coach Matt Eberflus and General Manager Ryan Poles are focusing on developing quarterback Justin Fields.

What makes Bears fans think he’s qualified? He was the quarterback coach for Aaron Rodgers the years he won back-to-back MVP honors. Fields ran a similar system during his time at Ohio State. Although the NFL is not the same as college, this is a different Justin Fields than in 2021. With Getsy’s style of play heavily reliant on Fields being on the move and misdirecting defenses, the Bears’ offense should take a leap forward.

Notice how I have only focused on the offensive side of the Bears and not the defensive side. That’s because the only thing that matters this season is the development of Fields. Defense has been instilled into this city and the Chicago Bears fanbase. And for good reason. The Bears’ two Super Bowl appearances in 1985 and 2006 were primarily due to their elite-caliber defense. Chicago takes pride in its linebackers–the likes of Brian Urlacher, Mike Singletary, Dick Butkus and many others. 

But the NFL has evolved into an offense-heavy league, where if a team can’t score a ton of points, they’re in trouble.

The last time the Chicago Bears had elite quarterback play was during World War II, with Sid Luckman in the 1940s. The Bears are the only team in the NFL with no QB in their history to throw 4,000 yards in a season.

That’s why the only important draft picks the Bears made were the offensive linemen and Jones. They will be the ones who will have a direct impact on how Fields progresses as a quarterback.

I believe Fields will be great for this franchise, and I do think he is capable of breaking that 4,000-yard threshold, even as soon as this season. 

The Bears are set to face the ninth-easiest schedule in the league. Weapons for Fields are starting to emerge, players such as receiver Darnell Mooney and tight end Cole Kmet, who are also poised to have a big season under Luke Getsy. Running backs David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert are coming back with an improved offensive line and better run schemes. With this new environment, Fields will take immense strides forward this season, and his successful development will be the foundation of future success for the Bears franchise. 

The Chicago Bears represent a city that has been an “NFL first” sports town since the Bears came into existence. The only step forward that should be acceptable for Bears fans is a significant step forward from Justin Fields.