While Chicago Bears coach Matt Eberflus fills out his teaching employees, common supervisor Ryan Poles and the entrance workplace are getting ready for the NFL scouting mix forward of a doubtlessly momentous draft with the Nos. 1 and 9 picks.
As he does each Wednesday, the Tribune’s Brad Biggs tackles reader questions within the Bears mailbag.
Do you recall one other time when Bears followers have been this divided over an incumbent QB? I don’t consider even Ryan Poles actually is aware of what he’ll determine given he hasn’t seen what groups will supply for the No. 1 decide. Agree? — @rgbears69
I attempt to keep away from the back-and-forth over the subject, to be sincere with you. I’m unsure the lots are fairly as divided as some consider. I think about Poles will discipline telephone calls, however barring one thing extraordinary, I consider he’ll stick at No. 1 and draft a quarterback. If the Bears arrive at a degree within the analysis course of the place they’ve robust conviction on a quarterback on the prime of the draft, Poles ought to say, “No, thanks,” if he receives calls concerning the decide.
It merely doesn’t make sense to be on the prime of the draft for 2 consecutive years and have an offense that’s so constantly poor throwing the ball and never take a quarterback. The Bears have a greater roster in place than many groups that draft a quarterback at No. 1, and that’s largely as a result of the choice got here from the Carolina Panthers. This shapes as much as be an thrilling, proficient quarterback class, and if not now, when? It’s fairly clear to me the Bears will use a first-round decide, and sure the No. 1 choice, on a quarterback.
As I’ve written a couple of instances, the concept they may commerce down and safe the quarterback they need appears far-fetched. When Poles, coach Matt Eberflus and everybody concerned reaches a conclusion on the quarterback draft board, ultimately they might want to share that data with President/CEO Kevin Warren and possession. They in all probability will probably be requested to summarize what went into their order. They absolutely will probably be requested some questions.
How on this planet might Poles then clarify to Warren and Chairman George McCaskey what went unsuitable in the event that they got here out of the draft with out the highest quarterback on their board? They have the primary decide. Trading out of No. 1 would create a component of threat and so they now not would management the board.
Can you knock down the commentary crediting Ryan Poles with “the most lopsided trade in NFL history”? As issues now stand, the Bears actually have gotten extra from final 12 months’s commerce of the No. 1 decide than the Panthers (although enchancment from Bryce Young might ultimately alter that evaluation). Credit/blame for the result, nonetheless, belongs extra with the Panthers than with Poles. If the Panthers had taken C.J. Stroud, as various sensible heads really useful, no NFL GM on the planet (Poles’ press feedback on the contrary) would have most popular the Bears’ facet of the commerce. I think that’s true even if you happen to ignore that the Bears wouldn’t have gotten the primary decide if Stroud had quarterbacked the Panthers. Elite QB play is priceless and in assessing the knowledge of passing on the chance to draft it, consideration needs to be given not solely to the result of final 12 months’s commerce however to what that consequence might/ought to have been. — Dennis R.
I haven’t seen lots of stuff claiming it was probably the most lopsided commerce in league historical past. Jimmy Johnson would possibly need a phrase with anybody making that assertion. He swapped working again Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings in a 1989 deal that concerned 18 gamers and draft picks and helped gasoline a run of three championships for the Dallas Cowboys.
It was a fantastic commerce by Poles. He wound up getting a No. 1 vast receiver in DJ Moore and, expectantly, made a transfer with a workforce that went within the tank, incomes the Bears the No. 1 decide once more this 12 months. I might make a really compelling case that the Bears could be higher off proper now had they remained at No. 1 and chosen Stroud. Some would counter that he would have struggled with out the belongings the Bears acquired within the commerce (Moore, proper sort out Darnell Wright, and so on.).
I received’t low cost that, nevertheless it’s loads simpler to repair a large receiver concern than a quarterback downside. Stroud joined a Houston Texans roster that was actually unhealthy in 2022 and he turned that group round virtually instantly. He was throwing to a bunch of receivers who had been, in the beginning of the season anyway, only a bunch of fellows.
What actually issues is what Poles does transferring ahead, not whether or not we contemplate if he swindled the Panthers or the Panthers made a blunderous choice. For the Bears to get the place they wish to go, they need to nail this draft. They must get their quarterback scenario righted just like the Texans did with the second decide a 12 months in the past. The Bears could be lucky to get a quarterback as proficient as Stroud, and now they’ve an honest group of offensive gamers surrounding the place.
For the Bears’ enchancment on protection because the season went on, what percentages do you placed on the next adjustments making the distinction: (a) Matt Eberflus taking up the reins; (b) the Tez Effect; and (c) rookie enchancment? Or another causes you may consider. — @thesnowpup
A variety of elements had been in play for a protection that was, in lots of methods, a lot better than in 2022. Eberflus taking up made an actual distinction. In talking with professional scouts all through the season who stored an in depth eye on the Bears, the widespread theme was it was simple to see a centered, week-to-week technique that wasn’t essentially there the 12 months earlier than. The run protection was terrific, actually from the beginning of the season, and that may be credited to various elements, together with some offseason personnel strikes.
Takeaways began to return in bunches after the commerce for Montez Sweat, and we noticed veteran gamers enhance, too, with cornerback Jaylon Johnson coming to thoughts. The Bears performed with much more cohesion in 2023, and a part of that was the holdover gamers being extra accustomed to their assignments and a part of it was an infusion of latest expertise, each free brokers and rookies. The Bears had been additionally fairly wholesome all through the season and didn’t face a assassin’s row of quarterbacks on their schedule.
The three largest causes for enchancment had been Eberflus working the protection, the arrival of Sweat and the addition of different rookies and veterans — akin to linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards and nostril sort out Andrew Billings. I’d say every of these was about one-third answerable for the positive factors. Now the Bears need to be higher in opposition to the go subsequent season, extra constant dashing the passer and a heck of loads higher on third down after rating twenty ninth at 44.1%.
What is the following vital Bears information that may come out: Jaylon Johnson extension, Justin Fields commerce, different? — @jtbarczak
If I had been a betting man, I’d in all probability wager on Johnson being franchise-tagged as the following huge information. If Johnson is about on changing into the highest-paid cornerback within the league — and that’s what he just lately stated — that leads me to consider negotiations might take a while. The Bears can create time by securing him with the franchise tag. The window for groups to make use of the tag runs from Feb. 20 by March 5.
What are the probabilities the Bears go working again buying this offseason by way of free company? If so, what free brokers do you assume they’ve a shot at touchdown? — @twashington1029
I’m usually against sinking huge cash right into a working again. In a passing league, it’s uncommon to seek out one who’s well worth the funding. There are a couple of, however most years you may depend the variety of actually particular backs on one hand. Some have prompt this isn’t a fantastic draft class for working backs. I’d think about the Bears will do one thing on the place with Khalil Herbert and Roschon Johnson below contract and D’Onta Foreman an honest wager to go away by way of free company.
Some have puzzled about Saquon Barkley. He turns 27 subsequent month and has averaged 4.07 yards per carry during the last three seasons. The Giants have been poor on offense, however I’m wondering if lots of issues round Barkley have to be proper for him to be tremendous productive — and the way a lot manufacturing are you going to get at this level? Derrick Henry, Josh Jacobs, Tony Pollard and Austin Ekeler are slated free of charge company as nicely. None of them regarded implausible this season.
I’d be much more within the Bears’ plans at vast receiver. A extremely productive WR2 is extra essential, in my view, than a working again. The Bears have already got a pair of backs they’ll win with in the event that they enhance elsewhere on offense.
What occurred with Sanjay Lal? — @mosconml
The former Seattle Seahawks vast receivers coach was a candidate to affix the Bears, and his addition would have made sense as he has labored with offensive coordinator Shane Waldron. Lal reportedly eliminated himself from consideration for the job. What went into that call, I don’t know. The Bears are anticipated to rent Chris Beatty for the place. He’s labored within the NFL for 3 seasons, serving because the vast receivers coach for the Los Angeles Chargers from 2021 by 2023. I can let you know that after talking with all kinds of coaches across the league, some of us have concern that it won’t be probably the most secure place with Matt Eberflus getting into Year 3 and an unsure quarterback scenario. Assistants looking for work would possibly choose to hitch their wagon to a head coach getting into Year 1.
Is Ian Cunningham nonetheless interviewing with different groups or is he sticking with the Bears? — @quikwit25
It appears like Cunningham is out of the working for a GM job after the Los Angeles Chargers employed Joe Horitz. Cunningham and Jeff King, the Bears co-director of participant personnel, each interviewed for the Chargers GM job. Cunningham was a finalist for the Washington Commanders GM job that went to Adam Peters. So absent one thing sudden, Cunningham will stay with the Bears.
Some had been fascinated by seeing him get a GM job elsewhere as a result of it could have introduced the Bears two compensatory third-round picks. High-level front-office personnel are value greater than that in the long term, although, so I’m certain Ryan Poles is completely satisfied to nonetheless have Cunningham as his assistant GM. Yes, he want to see a buddy and co-worker get a promotion, however Poles needs Cunningham to assist him too.
If the town was critically fascinated by working with the Bears on a brand new stadium, wouldn’t it make sense to construct the Bears stadium at The 78, then tear down Soldier Field and put a baseball stadium there? — @halatekhall
I received’t faux to have inside perception on the stadium conditions for the Bears or White Sox. My opinion is the Bears’ ongoing dialogue with the town has been about gaining leverage in negotiations with Arlington Heights over property taxes for land the workforce already owns. The metropolis might be motivated to proceed communication with the Bears so it may seem fascinated by holding them.
As far as what area is greatest for what, I don’t know. What I do know is the Bears spent almost $200 million for land in Arlington Heights, and that area is very large and would enable for a wide range of revenue sources if developed. Good luck discovering a 326-acre website like that within the metropolis that’s in a fascinating space and a scenario wherein the Bears could be in management, not the town.
Who’s going to exchange Cliff Stein? — @stanleyk934
That’s an excellent query. Matt Feinstein was employed in 2022 as director of soccer administration, a job that oversees the wage cap and contract negotiations. He has dealt with almost all the pieces in that regard for the reason that starting of the 2023 season. Stein took the lead on a few of that in 2022 and helped Feinstein alongside. I’m certain Kevin Warren has somebody in thoughts with a authorized background so as to add to the entrance workplace. I doubt Warren fired Stein with out having a plan prepared.
Do you assume Baltimore’s offensive play (particularly Lamar Jackson) in opposition to the Chiefs will have an effect on how the Bears view Justin Fields for the long run? — @stevenhbaumann
Why wouldn’t it? The present regime has two full seasons with Fields because the starter and three years (38 begins) in all to guage. Fields struggled mightily in Week 3 in Kansas City. Jackson had a tough go of it Sunday within the AFC championship recreation however was lights out for the overwhelming majority of the season. Fields was up and down all season and extra down than something. I don’t see a connection between the Ravens-Chiefs recreation and the Bears quarterback scenario.
At No. 9 — OL or Brock Bowers? — @bubgallagher
If the Bears stick at No. 9, my guess is a large receiver could be the most certainly choice. There would have to be an early run on quarterbacks and receivers for Notre Dame’s Joe Alt or Penn State’s Olu Fashanu — the highest two offensive tackles — to be on the board at No. 9. Bowers is a terrific expertise and worthy of consideration, however I might see the Bears going with a large receiver right here and actually reworking the place.