Bears keep preaching faith in QB Justin Fields

A few days before last year’s draft, general manager Ryan Poles brought a special guest into the Bears’ high-tech Halas Hall draft room: Justin Fields.

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Bears quarterback Justin Fields walks off the field after the Bears beat the Chiefs in the preseason opener at Soldier Field last year.

The Bears continue to support quarterback Justin Fields.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

INDIANAPOLIS — A few days before the NFL Draft last year, general manager Ryan Poles brought a special guest into the Bears’ high-tech Halas Hall draft room: Justin Fields. The quarterback watched as front-office members mocked out what they thought would happen and gamed out what they would do with their two second-round picks.

Poles wanted Fields to be able to understand why the Bears would make a move — or why they wouldn’t — rather than hear the speculation from the outside world.

“I feel like we’ve done a good job always communicating with him and letting him know — because I knew the noise was going to spike through this process with everything going on,” Poles told the Sun-Times on Tuesday, the first day of the NFL Scouting Combine. “We’ll always be in contact and talk through -everything.”

Even this year?

“Oh,” he said, “I’ll do it every year with him.”

That doesn’t sound like a general manager willing to trade Fields. Poles reiterated as much Tuesday, leaving the door open a crack to draft a quarterback first overall in April while admitting the team’s preference all offseason has been to trade their draft slot for a haul of draft picks — and perhaps even veterans to help improve the league’s worst team.

The Bears still will study the four quarterbacks projected to go in Round 1: Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Kentucky’s Will Levis and Florida’s Anthony Richardson. They’ll watch their throwing sessions intently and try to learn all they can in 20-minute interview sessions with them. Poles, though, described the process as mere due diligence.

“We’ve always leaned [toward trading the pick] because Justin did some really good things,” he said. “I’m excited about where his game is going to go. But at the same time, when you sit in our situation at No. 1 overall, you have to do your due diligence, you have to investigate everything, you have to spend time with those guys just to make sure we’re making the right decision.”

Poles said last month he’d have to be “blown away” to trade Fields and draft his replacement, and he reiterated that. NFL teams have heard him. While they’ve checked in with Poles about trading the first pick, Poles said no one has called to ask whether Fields is available via trade.

“I haven’t gotten that yet,” he said.

Poles has stayed in touch with his quarterback all offseason. He knew that Fields would hear speculation from the outside world about his future.

“It was just that, ‘There’s going to be a lot of noise, and just know that I’m going to keep you up to date with what we’re doing and why we’re doing it,’ ” Poles said. “And I think that’s important for him to kind of know what we’re doing.”

Poles and coach Matt Eberflus praised Fields while acknowledging his need to improve. Poles said that Fields has “got to take the next step in his game.”

“For the first year in the system, I think he’s on the right track,” Eberflus said. “He just needs to make small improvements and adjustments to his game, and he’s going to do that.”

At the end of the season, Eberflus spoke to Fields about making easy throws rather than exposing himself to hits while scrambling.

“He’s obviously a tremendous athlete; he can do a lot of different things,” Eberflus said. “If we call a designed run, sure you can run it there. But third down and situations like that, critical situations in the red zone, certainly do it there. But when it’s first and second down early in the game, let’s just take what the defense gives you and move on.”

The Bears, meanwhile, don’t look like they’re moving on from Fields anytime soon.

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