7 questions for Bears as they emerge from bye week for final 4 games

A look at Justin Fields, Matt Eberflus, Chase Claypool, what to do with a high draft pick next year and more.

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A photo of Bears quarterback Justin Fields throwing a pass in a game.

Fields’ 158 yards passing per game is last among NFL starters and barely above what he averaged as a rookie. He needs to up that production.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

As the Bears head into their final four games, starting next Sunday at home against the 11-1 Eagles, here are seven critical questions for the franchise:

What do the Bears need to see from Justin Fields in the last four games?
He has proven he’s the best running quarterback in the NFL, and the next step is upping his passing production. He has been efficient, but Fields is still last among starting quarterbacks at 158 yards passing per game. Topping 200 every week is a reasonable goal down the stretch.

Is Matt Eberflus doing a good job?
That’s difficult to judge, especially since he’s a defensive-minded coach and his defense has been stripped as Ryan Poles looks to offload big contracts. Eberflus seems to be establishing strong infrastructure for the Bears and he has adjusted well throughout the season, but he’s still sitting at 3-10. Granted, he has 3-10 personnel, but he hasn’t squeezed any more wins out of this group than an average coach would. We’ll find out a lot more about him next season when the Bears expect to have a viable roster.

What should the Bears do with a top-three draft pick?
Keep it and draft an amazing pass rusher. The priority for any team is to find a quarterback, then someone who destroys quarterbacks. The Bears have the NFL’s weakest pass rush. Defensive end Will Anderson has 34.5 sacks in three seasons at Alabama and he can solve that problem.

I’ll be watching this player the rest of the year ...
Wide receiver Chase Claypool. The explanations for his minimal production have long expired. Claypool has just 12 catches for 111 yards in five games for the Bears, and whether that’s him struggling or the team not facilitating his impact, the expectations are much higher. Coming out of the bye week, it’s time for Claypool to show he can be a game-changer.

Which surprise player has earned a 2023 starting job?
Teven Jenkins, but it’s going to be at guard rather than his preferred position of tackle. As long as Jenkins accepts that, he should be part of the Bears’ future. It’s a failure by former general manager Ryan Pace, who saw him as a franchise left tackle, but a big success for Ryan Poles and Eberflus because there was a point in August when it looked like Jenkins was on his way out. Credit them and him for salvaging a bad situation.

What has been the biggest disappointment of the season?
That Roquan Smith should still be a Bear. Smith was already a known quantity and is going to have a great career. He and Eberflus should’ve been a great match. The Bears will regret letting elite, young talent leave the building.

How many games will the Bears win the rest of the way?
Two if Fields plays. They have no shot whatsoever against the Super Bowl-contending Eagles and Bills coming up, but they can win the Week 17 game against the Lions and hope the Vikings treat the finale as a chance to rest key players for the playoffs.

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