Do new Bears coach, GM need to be Justin Fields believers? Absolutely
If the new coach isn’t on board with Fields, he’s going to have problems. And if the new coach has problems, the Bears have problems.
The list of Bears chairman George McCaskey’s remarks during his news conference last week that were weird, confusing or unnecessarily evasive is long and wearying.
It was such a ham-handed back-and-forth that at one point, McCaskey struggled to commit to Justin Fields as the team’s quarterback of the future. After repeated pressing on whether it was a prerequisite for general manager and coach candidates to be believers in Fields, McCaskey broke from the pocket and sprinted for the sideline.
The best he could muster about potential candidates’ confidence in Fields was, “We want to know what their plan is with the quarterback position for the Bears.”
It was his most bizarre response of the day because it was probably the easiest question he faced. Of course, the new administration must be pro-Fields. Otherwise, there’s no point in even applying for these two jobs.
When former general manager Ryan Pace traded the Bears’ 2022 first-round pick to move up and take Fields at No. 11 in ’21, he put the franchise all-in on Fields. He’ll be with the Bears for at least three more seasons.
That’s about how long a coach typically gets to prove himself, so the new guy is in trouble if he’s not on board with Fields. And if he’s in trouble, the Bears are in trouble.
There’s no off-ramp like the Cardinals had when they drafted Josh Rosen No. 10 overall in 2018 and bailed on him a year later to take Kyler Murray at No. 1. There’s no Murray-type prospect in the upcoming draft, and the Bears don’t have that first-round pick anyway.
So the Bears don’t need to hear a plan for the quarterback position. They have their quarterback. What they need to hear from a prospective general manager or coach is how he plans to facilitate Fields’ success.
The latest on those concurrent searches, by the way, was that the Bears scheduled a second interview with Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus for next week and received word from Colts assistant general manager Ed Dodds that he is no longer pursuing the job, NFL Network reported. The Bears also interviewed 49ers player personnel director Ran Carthon for the general manager spot Wednesday.
In a perfect world for the Bears, candidates would be climbing over each other just to get the chance to build a team around Fields and coach him.
That’s what happened last year when the Chargers had an opening that was attractive because of quarterback Justin Herbert’s rookie season, and the Jaguars job is seen as a golden opportunity because everyone still projects greatness for 2021 No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence.
Fields showed promise as a rookie, but it’s impossible to make a definitive determination on how good he is because of the very problems the Bears are trying to solve: Pace hindered him with an ill-conceived roster, and former coach Matt Nagy clouded Fields’ view from the start.
Their errors are the reason no one knows if Fields is the answer.
Pace put Fields behind a shaky offensive line, and Fields didn’t have a surefire tight end and was asked to play in an offense that already had fallen flat.
On Nagy’s end, he insisted on Andy Dalton as his starter and put Fields on a slower track with the assumption that he’d sit on the bench all season. He seemed completely unable to maximize his skills, which was evident in Fields’ starting debut. That game plan was so atrocious that Nagy surrendered the play-calling to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor days later.
If the Bears are going to continue entrusting Fields to people who are unable or unwilling to support him, the mess they’re in is going to get a lot worse.