8 big questions for Bears after first week of training camp

Checking on where the Bears stand and where they appear to be headed.

SHARE 8 big questions for Bears after first week of training camp
A photo of Bears quarterback Justin Fields at a recent training camp practice at Halas Hall.

As always, the Bears’ rise or fall will hinge on Fields more than anyone else.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

How do the Bears look so far? Like a team that needs a lot of work before the season starts.

The good news is that’s more than a month away, so there’s a lot of time to smooth things out. For now, though, here’s where they stand:

1. First impressions of Matt Eberflus ...

He’s very different from Matt Nagy. Eberflus’ personality is much more corporate, as opposed to Nagy’s “Friday Night Lights” approach. As part of that, Eberflus has sent a clear message that he’s not necessarily any player’s buddy. It’s on them to impress the new boss, just like it’d be at any other company.

2. Justin Fields looks ...

Unfazed. Considering how much instability and dysfunction the Bears have put him through over his year-plus in the organization, Fields has been remarkably steady. His approach to the job gives the Bears every reason to be optimistic that he’s headed the right way.

3. Most impressive development of camp ...

That Robert Quinn is still in town. Roquan Smith is the Bears’ best player and Fields is most important, but Quinn is most accomplished. While some of his unorthodox pass-rush moves are inimitable and he’s on an individual ramp-up program, his presence is vital to the young players. He’s also an incredible weapon who set the franchise record for sacks last season.

4. Biggest red flag ...

The same one that has been waving since spring: A glaring concern that general manager Ryan Poles hasn’t put enough pieces in place around Fields to facilitate his development. Poles thinks he has fortified the offensive line and assembled a solid crew of wide receivers. Perhaps he’ll be right, but from the outside, it takes a lot of faith to believe it now.

5. 2021 player the Bears miss already ... 

Pro Bowl return man Jakeem Grant. He did a lot for his career last season with a 97-yard punt return for a touchdown and an average of 23.5 yards per kick return—and he did a lot for the Bears, too. It’d be ideal to have a reliable returner to pencil in at both spots rather than have key skill players pulling double duty.

6. Best newcomer ... 

Rookie left tackle Braxton Jones. Reminiscent of Darnell Mooney’s rise, Jones showed he was reliable immediately and surged up the depth chart. He still has to hold off veteran Riley Reiff to win the starting job, but it’s impressive — and promising — that he’s made it this far this fast.

7. I’m intrigued by ...

Eddie Jackson. It’s the perfect match of potential and motivation. Jackson has already shown he has all-pro talent, but can he get back there at 28? He’s highly incentivized to do so, in part because his contract is nearing a point at which it would be advantageous for the Bears to cut him if he’s not playing up to his salary.

8. The Bears win total is 6.5 — over or under? 

Under. Their schedule is loaded with struggling or rebuilding teams, but the Bears fall into that category as well. It’ll be rare to see them favored heading into any game.

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