Chicago Bears fans have been hearing for months now. In fact, several of them have joined in the frenzy themselves. The team hasn’t done enough to improve the wide receiving corps around Justin Fields on offense. Darnell Mooney is good. It’s the new additions that are the problem. Byron Pringle? Velus Jones? Dante Pettis? Tajae Sharpe? It isn’t a group that inspires the imagination. Not after other teams like the Jaguars, Jets, and Dolphins spent lavishly to help their young quarterbacks.
GM Ryan Poles hasn’t shrunk from the outside criticism. He believes the team added some nice pieces that fit what the new offense under coordinator Luke Getsy plans to do. There is also the belief a better scheme with a run-first identity will better protect Fields and help him improve. As he continues to grow this season and into 2023, they can revisit the receiver issue if need be later.
As for Fields himself, he doesn’t seem put off by his new array of weapons.
He has the utmost confidence in Mooney already based on their excellent chemistry from last season. In addition, he was one of the strongest voices inside Halas Hall that wanted to draft Jones if the opportunity arose. That is something important to remember. So it wasn’t a huge surprise when the young quarterback defended his new receiving corps during an interview with Bleacher Report. He thinks it has more than enough ability to have success.
“We don’t have an Odell [Beckham Jr.] or a Cooper Kupp on our team, but at the end of the day I think if everybody is on their P’s and Q’s, and we’re on top of everything and not making mistakes, the players we have right now are good enough,” he told Bleacher Report in an exclusive interview. “The front office thinks that, too. The fans outside of the facility, they don’t know what’s going on at practice. Just because we don’t have a big-name guy, doesn’t mean those guys aren’t talented. I have plenty of confidence in myself and my teammates that we’re going to get the job done.”
This statement serves as a reminder of how self-confident Fields is. He believes in his own ability so much that he can help others around him be better. That is a mark many great quarterbacks share. Look at what Tom Brady did for the New England Patriots in the 2000s. Nobody would accuse that receiving corps of being elite. The key was that everybody did their job. Fields thinks it can be the same with this group.
Justin Fields continues to show his leadership prowess.
People may question whether those comments are his actual feelings. That doesn’t matter. His first priority as the quarterback of the Bears is leadership. His job is to prop everybody up, and get them to believe in him. Defending those receivers in public like this improves the odds that they will all play harder for him on Sundays. That is the end game. If he can get those guys to give their best, the end result should still be positive.
In fairness, what Justin Fields said isn’t entirely wrong. Mooney had over 1,000 yards last season despite catching passes from three different quarterbacks. Pringle had the best season of his career with over 500 yards and five touchdowns. Jones is one of the fastest receivers in the entire 2022 draft class. This group has talent. They just don’t have established track records.
He hopes to change that.
If Fields has his way this year, people will be talking about the Bears receiving corps as one of this season’s biggest surprises. There is plenty of speed in that group. Lots of versatility too. Provided the scheme isn’t completely worthless, the potential is there.