The Chicago Bears have a new general manager, a new head coach, a fresh group of rookies, and a second-year quarterback no one thinks was used to his full potential last season. And yet, perceptions of them are so negative that their every move has been scrutinized to a point where it has become clear they are not free of the 30-plus years of futility.
Even the most die-hard optimist has to admit that fielding competitive offenses, let alone teams, has often been a struggle for the NFL’s oldest franchise.
So far, the more things have changed for the Bears, the more they have remained the same.
Chicago Bears Fighting Negative Perceptions After Decades of Futility
Not Giving Fields Enough
This has perhaps been the most echoed sentiment and it is certainly the most damning. Most agree the most important thing about this season for the Bears is identifying whether or not Justin Fields is the guy at quarterback. Many, including ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky, think that is impossible with what general manager Ryan Poles has given him to work with.
“If Justin Fields plays really well this year he will be in the MVP conversation.”@danorlovsky7 has high hopes for Fields, but isn’t certain he has the tools to reach them. #KJM pic.twitter.com/o7z2VrTqiD
— Keyshawn, JWill & Max (@KeyJayandMax) May 9, 2022
Except, as was pointed out in this article from A to Z Sports, Orlovsky contradicted an earlier take he had on Fields. But he also omitted third-year wideout Darnell Mooney who recorded over 80 catches and 1000 receiving yards in an ineffective offensive system.
Poles has reiterated his faith in Fields and vows to provide the quarterback with the weapons he needs. But he only took one receiver in the NFL Draft two weeks ago.
That selection, Velus Jones of Tennessee, was pre-ordained by Fields, per Poles.
The Bears have limited resources with just $15 million in cap space remaining. They also began the draft with six picks, none in the first round. It is hard to imagine getting more for Fields now without giving up even more draft capital, further hamstringing the future.
Had he done that, the discourse would likely be how he is repeating the same mistakes of his predecessor, Ryan Pace, who often made a flurry of moves in the offseason.
Deals Falling Apart
Poles’ first major signing does not even count since the deal was nullified thanks to Larry Ogunjobi’s failed physical. The Bears reneged on the three-year, $40 million deal they offered him and pivoted to Justin Jones of the Los Angeles Chargers to fill their critical void at three-technique.
“When I saw it, it really pissed me off but I can’t comment on it…(The) business is cutthroat and not everybody goes about handling business the same way…Unfortunately, that’s the way they handled it. That’s life-changing money and for that to be snatched away, it’s rough.”
Reader’s position is understandable. And he is correct that the business of sports is cutthroat.
However, Ogunjobi is still available to visit the Jets. That could show that he was not close enough to warrant the kind of deal the Bears initially offered.
To that end, the Bears have never ruled out signing the five-year veteran defensive lineman to a lesser deal. That plays into Reader’s point about “life-changing money”. But Ogubjobi also made headlines after posting pictures of himself working out with Bears-branded equipment in late April.
Chicago also missed out on offensive lineman Ryan Bates, who re-signed with the Buffalo Bills, after signing him to an offer sheet, further hurting their image.
Overreactions to Minor Details
This one will certainly get some reactions. The Bears may not know for certain whether or not Fields is the guy. But it is fairly obvious at this point that Peterman is not. Fortunately, that is not why Peterman was brought in. His purpose is as the third-string quarterback and training camp arm.
Trevor Siemian will be Fields’ backup this season. He too is limited. But has won games in the NFL. Peterman has one victory in four NFL seasons which came back in his rookie year.
Bringing in Peterman makes signing Siemian during free agency look that much better, though.
Speaking of signings, former Bears wideout Allen Robinson took to social media to weigh in on Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine’s free agency. LaVine was once thought a lock to return to Chicago next season but that has changed in recent days.
Zach Lavine to Dallas or Portland would be a super nice fit
— Allen Robinson II (@AllenRobinson) May 10, 2022
Robinson also said LaVine would be the top free agent on the market and would have his choice of destinations.
This is not entirely Bears-related. But a former Chicago star suggesting a current one would be a “nice fit” elsewhere drew the expected response from Bears fans. It also does nothing for the perception that this is not the place for stars, a stigma the Bears (and Bulls) have dealt with for decades.
Poles, Bears Focus on Grand Scheme
It might be naive to think that the Bears are crawling this season to run next year. That is when they will be one of the most cap-rich teams in the league. They will also have their first-round pick. It should be fairly high since they do not figure to win many games. They can take a stud wideout with that pick or trade it for one.
Both A.J. Brown and Marquise “Hollywood Brown” changed teams during this year’s draft while 13 receivers were taken before the Bears selected Jones 71st overall.
Poles stepped from the frying pan and into the fire taking over the Bears. But, so far, his plan has not changed, even if there have been several detours along the way. That flexibility will serve him well whereas his predecessor’s rigidity in doing it his way ultimately did him in.
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