Worry begins to set in when you reach about a month after your NFL offseason begins and you don't have any pieces set for your next year. The Chicago Bears didn't reach that mark, but many of their fans have. You can see it left and right when perusing social media. Many fans are perplexed by the recent hires of Ryan Poles, Matt Eberflus, and how it affects Justin Fields. But not without resistance.
These gentlemen haven't done anything more than sign off on accepting a new job. Ryan Poles hit the ground running, in his own words, and made a splash but not the one fans wanted. That's fine because what do we know? We're not running NFL front offices. Armchair GMs don't know better than their own opinions and that's fine too. Everyone is entitled to an opinion.
Here are five reasons fans should have optimism for the Bears heading into the 2022 season, and it starts at the top.
5. Bears' New DC Alan Williams
If you're wondering who Alan Williams is, you're probably not alone. Williams wasn't exactly a well-known coach in the current carousel. But with Matt Eberflus comes a defensive backs coach with a ton of one-minded experience. This guy lives and breathes defense.
He worked closely with Eberflus for the last several years in Indianapolis. Ryan Poles' aggressive approach to the offseason continued when the Bears officially hired Williams as their defensive coordinator. Eberflus already mentioned that he wasn't going to be calling defensive plays, so Williams has a huge role to play in their success. Fans take note, you can't write this man off before he's even done anything for the Bears organization.
4. Ryan Poles' Offense + Matt Eberflus' Defense
It's not too hard to fathom that a guy who played football as one of the players protecting the most important position on the field could put together a fully functional and modern NFL offense. It's also pretty easy to see how a coach who spent the last three decades adapting defenses to evolving offenses can lead a group based on defense.
What do you get when you put those two guys together? Balance. Eberflus' experience with defense gives him special insight in teaching the offense what to look for. Poles' knowledge regarding the importance of protecting Justin Fields is of crucial significance. If they protect him, give him time to work, and build formidable pieces around him, then they can succeed on both sides of the ball.
3. The Chicago Bears Needing Draft Capital Is A Good Thing
This sounds ridiculous on the surface but it's true. The Bears need draft picks and lots of them. As fellow On Tap Sports Net contributor Quinten Krzysko said on the latest Bears On Tap episode, Eberflus knows how to build a defense. He's done it with second- and third-round picks because he's skilled enough to coach these players to reach their full potential.
It's going to hurt when the Bears trade a star or two to make this happen. But if a player like Khalil Mack gets moved for a king's ransom so he can chase his championship goal while he's still in his prime, then we should respect that.
A potential deal needs to be worth it though. We could look back on a trade in five years and say that was the first big mistake Poles made in his continuation of Chicago Bears mediocrity. Or we could look back on that trade and claim how great it was to have such a disruptive player on defense and be glad he got his ring somewhere. Either way, if the Bears get a superstar talent from the draft because of it, then it doesn't matter. The Bears aren't winning soon and Mack needs success now before another injury sends him down the wrong path.
2. Justin Fields Knows He's The Starter
First-team reps are the biggest advantage Justin Fields has heading into the 2022 season. Why he didn't have them before is an example of how inept the previous Bears' regime was, but that headache is gone. This offseason will be the most important one of Fields' career. He knows he's the leader and he will get treated like one. With a full offseason as the clear starting quarterback, Fields can reach the next level. Plus, he'll be able to soak in the knowledge of offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. That can't hinder him at all, can it?
We know how the McCaskey family works right? They hire a coach who lasts a minimum of two years. Then if things go poorly, driving Bears fans mad, they move on after the season concludes. So in theory, we'll know exactly who Justin Fields is and how the coach/GM pair works together by 2024. If Fields is who we hope he is and the guys in charge actually know what they're doing, then the Bears should have sustained success.
1. Bears Fans Fear the Unknown But a Philosophy Change Was Needed
I once heard that the most exciting thing in sports outside of winning a championship is when your favorite football team drafts a quarterback in the first round. I'd say that's a pretty accurate assertion, but it would be tied with the last out of a perfect game in baseball for me. But why is it that way? If your team is drafting a quarterback in the first round there's a reason. Either someone got hurt, traded, or just plain stunk. Regardless, it happened and once again the Chicago Bears have hope for their future.
What else is exciting? The regime change. I was initially pumped when the Bears hired John Fox. It wasn't perfect but the man had a good Denver Broncos team, and look who he was replacing. Following the Marc Trestman experiment, the Bears needed change. That's exactly what we're going through now. Matt Nagy gave us nothing but headaches and Ryan Pace didn't speak enough to warrant anything other than the criticism he deserved.
Everything here is new. This is just like the Chicago Bulls ridding themselves of Gar Forman and John Paxson. The fans craved it and the new-car smell was so fresh it provided some of those who gave up on the team a new appreciation. Whether you like the changes or not, you can't deny that we don't know the outcome of these offseason hires and you can only be afraid of the unknown for so long.
We fans can hold back our worry until the Chicago Bears actually start playing games with their new leadership. Ryan Poles has a good offensive-minded mentality. Matt Eberflus can build a defense out of army men. Until they give us legitimate reasons to be concerned, let's just enjoy the feeling of opening presents on Christmas morning. You don't know what you have until you see it, and we haven't reached that juncture yet.