The Chicago Bears have run fans through the gamut of emotions very early in the rebuild process. After having their biggest free-agent signing nullified by a failed physical, many were not nearly as accepting when the Buffalo Bills matched the four-year, $17 million offer sheet offensive lineman Ryan Bates signed with the Bears.
Appearing from the owner’s meetings, Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus did their best to express both their regret for those deals not going through and for their excitement over the long-term vision they share for the team.
What came about, however, was just another exhibition of the uncertainty that comes from – and the faith that needs to go into – a rebuild.
The Chicago Bears Rebuild Has Already Been an Emotional Rollercoaster
In Poles’ Position
Poles inherited quite the mess from his predecessor, Ryan Pace. Few difference-makers on a roster with little cap space and a thin war chest of draft capital are recipes for disaster. For Poles, the makeover has to begin in the trenches, an area where the Bears figure to be below average next season, to put it kindly.
Updated 2022 NFL Unit Grades pic.twitter.com/Si4qnGSl9d
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) March 25, 2022
Poles, who found out that his offer to Bates had been matched while speaking with media on Monday, expressed optimism over potentially inking Larry Ogunjobi to a lesser deal. He also acknowledged the toll that the original agreement falling apart had via Adam Jahns of The Athletic.
“…I almost feel like the process is flawed a little bit where I wish we could have some of these images and some of the physical done before. And again, that’s going to be some type of rule change. I don’t know the process (for) getting that done. It’s probably something at a meeting like this in the future. But yeah, I think a lot of people were hurt just with the whole timing of it.”
That last part is what has fans most concerned with only one upgrade on the line and a pair of fourth and fifth options added to the wide receiver room. At a time when maximizing a quarterback’s rookie deal is en vogue, Year 2 is critical.
Poles said the Bears would be aggressive in the coming wave(s) of free agency. He added that he felt what they’ve done so far along with coaching and the scheme will lead to progress.
Eberflus certainly has a style that borders on a brand with his mnemonic devices. They might seem gimmicky to the fan, such as his latest offering from Tuesday, ‘M&M’, which stands for Motor & Mean’. He insisted it’s not another acronym after offering up ‘HITS’ (Hustle, Intensity, Takeaways, and playing Smart) when he was introduced as head coach.
He also said he was considering making t-shirts.
When it came to Fields, Eberflus echoed the expectations and added a direct challenge to his second-year passer via Alex Shapiro of NBC Sports Chicago.
“We’re looking for better technique, better fundamentals, better decision-making, better timing, everything. He’s all on-board on that. He’s excited about where he is, and he’s been working his tail off. That’s what we want, just that big jump from Year 1 to Year 2.”
The onus for improvement from the offense will largely have to come from Fields’ development and the game-planning of rookie offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. Both will have their jobs made that much harder if the Bears cannot add to this group.
If we took the 5 listed starters for each team from ourlads and tried to guess how good their pass protection would be based on most recent PFF grade, which teams would we expect to have the best and worst pass protection in 2022?
Hmm, I wonder why Russell Wilson wanted out… pic.twitter.com/dN3R9OEcGf
— Computer Cowboy (@benbbaldwin) March 28, 2022
Like Poles, who shared his desire to deliver a long-lasting winning product for the city, he also let it be known that he is aware the Bears are facing a step back for a leap forward.
Considering the Bears still have multiple holes in the secondary on top of a lack of pass-catcher and quality offensive linemen, the optimism is easier for someone who arrived just a couple of months ago.
Lifelong fans might not see it that way.
Bears Rebuild Needs Patience Now, Results Soon
No one should have expected this to be a quick turnaround. We saw the undisciplined mess the previous regime let things devolve into. For that alone, it is hard to come down too hard on Poles while he operates under such constraints. And, as a head coach, Eberflus will largely avoid blame until things go awry on the field.
For anyone ready to jump off of that cliff, take a couple of steps back. There will be more opportunities to continue upgrading the roster ahead of the season, and you still can’t win the Super Bowl in March.
They were also always going to be bad this season.
At the same time, Poles and Co. saying the right things will fall flat rather quickly in a tough market with a rabid fan base if significant misses keep piling up at this rate as we get deeper into this process.
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