The Chicago Bears ended the season on a very long losing streak, losing their last 10 games in a row. After starting the season 2-1, they managed to win only one more game the rest of the way. While losing that often is never a good thing, one positive to come out of it is that they ended up with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
The Houston Texans looked poised to take that spot as they had one win in the first 15 weeks of the season. But, after winning two out of their last three games, they finished the season 3-13-1, falling into second place in the order.
Now essentially on the clock, there has been a lot of speculation about what the Bears would do with the first overall pick. Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud are considered the top quarterback prospects in the draft class and could be the first two players off the board. Alas, the Bears already have a quarterback on a rookie contract in Justin Fields under center.
General manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus inherited Fields from the last regime. They could look to bring in their own guy, using the No. 1 pick on the quarterback of their choice. But, that would set the franchise back another few years as the rest of the roster needs a lot of work.
Staying the course with Fields, who showed improvement in Year 2, is the way to go. For now, that sounds like the path that the Bears will be taking as Poles said the team would have to be blown away to take another quarterback.
“We’re going to do the same as we’ve always done,” Poles said. “We’re going to evaluate the draft class, and I would say this: I would have to be absolutely blown away to make that type of decision.”
Fields made the most of what was a bleak situation with the Bears’ offense. The supporting cast that was put around him for his second season in the NFL could be considered organizational malpractice. He lacked impact pass-catching weapons and the offensive line was a mess.
Despite that, Chicago had the best-rushing offense in the league, which Fields spearheaded. He finished the season with 1,143 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, falling just short of Lamar Jackson’s single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback.
Where more improvements are needed is in the passing game. Fields made strides as he got more comfortable in the third offense he was learning in three years as his numbers improved across the board.
“Yeah. We had good conversations,” Poles said during his season-ending news conference on Tuesday. “I’m excited for the direction he’s going. As I mentioned before, he knows where he has to improve. I think he mentioned that the other day. We’re excited about his development and where he goes next. He showed ability to be impactful with his legs. There’s flashes with his arm. Now if we can put that together, I think we have something really good.”
Heading into the offseason with the same coaching staff intact will help Fields immensely. Instead of starting over from scratch again, he will be able to build upon all of the work he did this summer and take his grasp of the offense to another level.
Making those strides is important, but the front office does need to upgrade the group around him. Despite playing in only 15 games, Fields was the most sacked quarterback in the NFL this season, getting taken down 55 times. The offensive line needs to be addressed, but weapons are needed.
Chase Claypool was acquired ahead of the trade deadline and a full offseason together will certainly help those two build chemistry. Wide receiver Darnell Mooney and tight end Cole Kmet were the only pass catchers he showed any kind of chemistry with.
Bringing in an established weapon would do wonders for him and slot everyone else into roles they are more suited for. We have seen the impact star wide receivers can have on quarterbacks and Fields should be next to experience that. To help achieve that, the Bears’ front office should be taking calls for the No. 1 pick and trading it to the highest bidder to stock up on assets to fill out the roster with around Fields.