Bears GM Ryan Poles believes he has given QB Justin Fields the help he needs

After an offseason in which he was flush with cash and went into the draft with the No. 1 overall pick, Poles is confident the right personnel is in place. There’s enough there for Fields to make a leap. All that’s left is for him to do it.

SHARE Bears GM Ryan Poles believes he has given QB Justin Fields the help he needs
A photo of Bears general manage Ryan Poles giving a press conference at Halas Hall.

Poles has now added seven first-, second- or third-round picks to the roster he inherited in 2022

AP Photos

The Bears handed Ryan Poles a mile-long to-do list when he walked in the door as their general manager last year, and it still will be awhile before he completes it.

But after an offseason in which he was flush with cash and went into the draft with the No. 1 overall pick, Poles is confident he finally has given quarterback Justin Fields the help he needs.

For the first time in Fields’ young career, the personnel around him isn’t detrimental to his development. There’s enough there for him to make a leap. All that’s left is for him to do it.

‘‘You want to support your quarterback; we all know that’s where it starts,’’ Poles said after wrapping up the draft Saturday. ‘‘You want to surround him with talent. We had to wait a little bit to do it the way I wanted.’’

He was referring to the teardown and cleanup that was necessary in his first season following former GM Ryan Pace. There was little salary-cap space or draft capital after the Bears went all-in for a sub-.500 team.

But this offseason was different. Poles had the resources to sign coveted guard Nate Davis and to draft offensive tackle Darnell Wright No. 10 overall. He leveraged the No. 1 overall pick to secure his best wide receiver, D.J. Moore, in the trade with the Panthers.

Looking at the names near him in the locker room, Fields would have to agree he has a solid offensive line in front of him and is well-supplied with skill players.

‘‘It’s got to come together,’’ Poles said. ‘‘But on paper, we’ve done a good job to surround him with good talent.’’

There was far too much self-sabotage in Fields’ first two seasons. The Bears cleaned up the dysfunction by bringing in Poles, coach Matt Eberflus and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, but they still left Fields in a bad spot roster-wise.

Far too often, Fields would face immediate pressure in the pocket and have no open receivers. With little other choice, he made good use of his speed and rushed for 1,143 yards last season, but he finished last among NFL starting quarterbacks with 149.5 yards passing per game. He was sacked a league-high 55 times, threw 11 interceptions and had one game in which he completed only 7 of 11 passes.

He can’t stay there now that he’s been properly supplied.

The defense will be part of the equation, too. When Fields found a rhythm in the middle of last season, it felt as though every game was a race into the 30s, and he was an easy target for pass rushers because he usually was playing from behind.

It’s discouraging that the Bears have done so little to improve what was the NFL’s weakest pass rush last season, but Poles does seem to have solved a major problem at cornerback.

He now has the trio of Jaylon Johnson, Kyler Gordon and new second-round pick Tyrique Stevenson — all 24 or younger and all among the top eight at their position in their respective draft classes.

Poles picked Gordon and Stevenson, and Johnson was one of the few top-shelf talents he was fortunate to inherit from Pace. He seems ready to make his own commitment to Johnson, who is up for a contract extension between now and the season opener.

‘‘We have a really good group for [the long term],’’ Poles said. ‘‘Jaylon, I hope he’s a guy we get to keep here for a while, too. I’m excited about that group, inside and outside, and the depth of it, as well.’’

Going into Pace’s final season as GM, the Bears inexcusably had a cornerback crew that featured Johnson and a bunch of practice-squad players. That group had no chance. This one looks as though it might grow into one of the NFL’s strongest.

The overall overhaul probably requires one more year, and that’s as long as anyone patiently can wait, but this roster has far more promise than the one Poles was dealt. He has made seven picks in the first three rounds of the last two drafts, and that goes a long way toward aligning the team with his vision.

‘‘We’ve taken a pretty big step forward in that space,’’ he said. ‘‘There’s a ways to go, but we’re making progress.’’

Now he needs Fields to do the same. And, in Poles’ mind, everything is in place for that to happen.

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