Justin Fields is battling for his career right now. The start of the 2023 season couldn’t have gone any worse for him. His passer rating is barely above 70, with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Nothing about his game suggests he has matured as a passer. There are 15 games left. He still has time to change that, but this is a bad sign for his future with the Chicago Bears. It’s not like people can blame his supporting cast anymore. D.J. Moore has been an instant hit at wide receiver. The offensive line, while not great, looks improved. People continue to harp on the coaching, which is fair in some respects.
Even so, this is Year 3 for Fields. He shouldn’t look this lost. Signs are growing that the current regime led by GM Ryan Poles is starting the process of finding a new quarterback in 2024. He’s already been spotted at several college football games that featured a potential top name in next year’s draft. Obviously, there is no information on who the team may or may not like. That will be kept close to the vest. However, one source did reveal some interesting information on who the Bears currently think is the most pro-ready. Three names were mentioned.
- USC’s Caleb Williams
- Washington’s Michael Penix
- Notre Dame’s Sam Hartman
This Chicago Bears regime seems to value experience.
That first became evident when they signed Tyson Bagent as an undrafted free agent. While a good athlete with size and accuracy, his biggest calling card was over 2,000 pass attempts across 53 games played. He was highly experienced, even if it was at the Division II level. That experience helped in the preseason, allowing him to pick up the offense quickly and perform well in his three appearances.
It makes sense this would be something the Chicago Bears stick with going into a pivotal 2024 draft. Williams is the obvious prize in the eyes of many. He’s already a Heisman winner and could go back-to-back this season. He has started 25 games to this point and will cross the 30 mark before the end of this season. He has 12 touchdowns with no interceptions through three games. Many see him as another Patrick Mahomes.
Penix Jr. is one of the coolest stories out there. He looked like a lost cause after four frustrating years at Indiana. Rather than take his chances in the pros, he transferred to Washington, where he has become a star. In 16 games, he has thrown 43 touchdowns to nine interceptions. Whatever was broken appears fixed. He’s got size, athleticism, and a howitzer for an arm.
Hartman might be the most underrated.
He had a productive run at Wake Forest across five years, but his draft stock didn’t seem to benefit. So he transferred to Notre Dame. Now he has 13 touchdowns with no interceptions across four games. His 71.1% completion rate is also the highest of his career. He’s playing professional-style football from the pocket, looking poised and accurate. The interest in him is warranted.