Chicago Bears GM Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus knew the challenge ahead of them when they arrived in January. Not only would they have to overhaul the roster and culture of the organization, but they’d also have to fix Justin Fields. The young quarterback is talented. That was never debated. It was a matter of him figuring out how to handle the speed and complexity of the NFL level. He was no longer at Ohio State, where his team was way more talented than most opponents.
This is going to be a process. It comes down to how the Bears handle it. There are various templates on how to cultivate quarterbacks. Specifically, how to build around them. One could copy the Chiefs, focusing on building the foundation of an offense before finding the quarterback. That isn’t possible for Chicago since the QB is already in place. Instead, according to Jeff Hughes of Da Bears Blog, they’ve decided to take inspiration from another AFC powerhouse.
“In the NFL, rebuilds don’t exist. There are teams with top-level quarterbacks and teams without them. The teams with them are relevant each and every season and the Bears believe Justin Fields will get there. They do not believe, however, that he’s there right now. (And no one watching the 2021 tape would objectively disagree.)
When it comes to the roster around the quarterback, and when there is turnover at the head coach/GM positions, it takes no more than a single off-season to dump men and money and start the whole program over. Poles and Flus have followed a repeatable template, specifically one engaged by the regime running things in Buffalo currently.”
Chicago Bears picked an intelligent approach to emulate.
The Bills didn’t go crazy with their construction around Allen when he arrived in 2018. It was an incremental process involving every phase of roster-building, from the draft to free agency and trades.
- 2018 – Allen gets drafted.
- 2019 – Dawson Knox is drafted. Cole Beasley and Mitch Morse signed.
- 2020 – Gabriel Davis is drafted. Signed Daryl Williams. Traded for Stefon Diggs.
The Bills didn’t rush the project. They set about helping their young quarterback improve with coaching while steadily upgrading the roster around him. Resources were never spent wildly. By 2020, Allen had become one of the breakout stars in the league. Now he is an MVP favorite going into 2022. That is what the Chicago Bears can do for Fields.
They will finally have the flexibility needed for the next off-season. That includes $90+ million in salary cap space and what will likely be a top 10 pick in the draft. It will be a genuine shock if they don’t come out of that spring with at least two or three quality starters for the offense, particularly at wide receiver and the offensive line. If things go as planned, Fields should take a significant step forward in 2023.