Bears are cooking with quality plans

Team’s trajectory is on the rise, and for once, the fans are along for the ride.

SHARE Bears are cooking with quality plans
Justin Fields

Bears quarterback Justin Fields

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

A strange thing has happened with the Bears over the last six months. In my time covering the team, I’m not sure if there ever has been a period like this. Things with the franchise seem more settled than ever.

Think about it. For the better part of two decades, Bears fans have used outgoing team president Ted Phillips’ name as a punchline. He has been replaced by Kevin Warren, and that move has been universally applauded. Warren’s credentials make it easy to believe that he was the right person to lead the franchise into the future. It’s a future that for sure sees the “Beloved” leaving the lakefront for a swanky new stadium in Arlington Heights.

Speaking of which, notice that other than outgoing Mayor Lori Lightfoot, you haven’t heard any rancor about the inevitability of the Bears leaving for the burbs. Don’t get me wrong, when the Bears ask for municipal, county and state money, that will change, but for now, most fans are on board with the idea.

In fact, Bears fans have been quite docile and understanding about the overall strategy of the team. It’s bizarre!

A few weeks ago, I was talking to an out-of-town colleague and explaining how a 3-14 team could be interesting. The stuff we saw Justin Fields do in that incredible eight-game stretch after Week 5 made the impossible plausible. It made Sundays more entertaining. And for the most part, Bears fans were on board with this. Weird, right?

Loss after loss, the plan of the season really took shape. It was the best of both worlds. Fields was improving enough to make the idea of going into the draft and looking for a quarterback seem ridiculous. On top of that, the Bears were closing in on a high draft pick. General manager Ryan Poles couldn’t have planned it better. Then on the last Sunday of the season, the football gods and “Lovie Claus” swooped in with an incredible gift — a win that gave the Bears the No. 1 pick.

For the worst team in the league, everything’s coming up Millhouse.

Poles saved himself the anxiety of a draft-day trade by working the market. He swung a blockbuster deal with the Panthers that netted four draft picks and wide receiver D.J. Moore. Now Fields has someone to make plays within the passing game and the Bears can work their entire draft board.

One of the four picks that Poles got in the deal with the Panthers was a swap for their 9th overall selection in the first round Thursday. While the offseason was shaping up to be the NFL’s version of “Let’s Make A Deal,” now the Bears can watch the board and make moves accordingly. Poles and his staff did the heavy lifting on March 10.

So what should the Bears do with that ninth pick? The choices are vast because they need help everywhere. There’s an argument that the Bears didn’t do enough to bolster the offensive line in free agency. They should have their pick of tackles after the run on quarterbacks.

Then there’s the Jalen Carter issue. If he’s there at 9, should the Bears take the defensive tackle? It seemingly would solve their problem at 3-technique and, trust me, they have a real problem at that position. What about another corner? That could make some sense with Kyler Gordon showing some upside as nickel defender. The Bears might want to get someone to play outside, opposite of Jaylon Johnson.

I seem to be one of a small chorus of people who believe that Texas running back Bijan Robinson makes as much sense as anybody. While the position has been devalued over the last decade, I think he’s a more versatile weapon than an old-school workhorse. Adding him to an offense that already has Fields, Moore and Darnell Mooney is tantalizing.

The Bears’ needs are legion, so it’s hard to argue they can make a bad move with that ninth pick. Even trading down again makes sense.

Regardless, the franchise has had quite a run. The fortune continued this week. Aaron Rodgers, The Wicked Witch of the North, is GONE! Bears fans can pop some champagne, sit back and enjoy the draft.

You can hear Laurence Holmes talk Chicago sports Monday to Friday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on 670 The Score with Dan Bernstein.

The Latest
The June 21-22 event is one of the latest music festivals to emerge in the suburbs.
Jac Caglianone of Florida and Braden Montgomery of Texas A&M are considered by many evaluators to be the two top power hitters from the left side (even though Montgomery is a switch hitter).
“He was one of those guys you wanted to read,” recalled Sun-Times columnist Rick Telander.
War looms as HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ prequel returns with stunning visuals, explicit sex and violence, and a bewildering abundance of characters.
In his three decades as artistic director, Newell has taken the company to a series of heights, marked by a number of Jeff Awards, growth in audiences and engagement with its local South Side community, and, in 2022, the Tony Award for Regional Theater.